Grand Opening Review – Pho Your Choice 2
Hello hello, again, Foodie Friends 🙂 Hope you’ve had a great week! For this special edition of Foodie Adventures, we’re taking you on a tour of the newly opened Pho Your Choice 2 on Wade Hampton Blvd., just in time for the autumn cozy season! 😁🍜🎉
All about Pho Your Choice
One of the things you’ll find as we get closer to autumn, besides the leaves changing color and people breaking out their sweaters (at least in the morning around here), is wanting to eat bowls of comforting food. Whether that’s a bowl of warm chili and cornbread in front of a football game, a bowl of chowder, or cozy ramen with friends, there’s something about warm soups this time of year that gives people a good feeling on the inside.
This is definitely the atmosphere you find when you come to Tony Nguyen’s newest establishment, Pho Your Choice 2, a Vietnamese Pho Restaurant in Taylors that recently had its grand opening a couple of weeks ago. My friend Jonathan found this place and stopped for lunch during their first couple days in business and said we had to check it out, so we definitely made sure to take the trip back for dinner that week!
We were lucky enough to sit down and speak with Tony for a few minutes and ask him a little more about his start as a business owner, how he decided on this location, and more about the Grand Opening itself:
“What first brought you to the South or Greenville, SC?”
We visited my uncle: Rev. Dr. Nguyen van Dai, Sr. Pastor at Vietnamese Blessing Baptist Church in Greenville, SC in 2016. We liked the Christian lifestyles and the four seasons weather here, so we decided to move from California.Tony Nguyen, Owner, Pho Your Choice 2
“Did you always love cooking and food or was it something that came to you later in life?”
I always loved cooking and food. Being an older son in the family, I started cooking for my family when I was 13 years old to help out my working parents. I’m passionate about cooking and take pride in it. Everything I cooked & served and saw that people ate and enjoyed made me feel good and proud of myself. However, cooking didn’t become a professional career to me until 2012 when I owned and operated a Vietnamese restaurant in ChinaTown, Los Angeles, California for several years.Tony Nguyen, Owner, Pho Your Choice 2
“Tell us more about the Grand opening of the new location! How did you choose this location and what made you want to open another location?”
I guess destination is the keyword here! We were going to open a new location by the name of “Pho Your Choice 2” in Columbia, SC, where we had made an offer to acquire an existing Thai restaurant there. However, another opportunity opened up in Taylors, Greenville County, when the management of the Hampton Village Shopping Center contacted us about an opened suite there. This is a great location, right next to Publix supermarket, closer to our home and our current restaurant, Lemongrass Kitchen, in Spartanburg (check out pictures of that restaurant and grand opening from 2016 above). So we signed the lease and moved in with the plan to open at the beginning of August 2021. But we had to postpone the date a couple times due to technical difficulties. Finally, we had a great turn out on our Grand Opening date on Sunday, August 29, 2021.Tony Nguyen, Owner, Pho Your Choice 2
As soon as we opened the door, a line of guests and customers who waited outside started to come in to congratulate us and order food. The place was packed from lunch time to dinner time and we were overwhelmed by the love and support from our friends, loyal customers and new customers. Unlike the other three restaurants we had and have in Spartanburg, which has more dynamic backgrounds and origins of customers such as Cambodian, Laosian, M’ong, Thai, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and a few Vietnamese… This new location has more Vietnamese customers, even though there are a few other well known Vietnamese restaurants already in the area.Tony Nguyen, Owner, Pho Your Choice 2
“What’s your favorite dish on the menu?”
Aside from Pho, which is our expertise, Bun Bo Hue (Hue’s spicy beef noodles) is another favorite noodle soup we make that’s my favorite. We have learned from our customers that our Crunchy fried noodles (with seafood or any protein) is also their favorite dish.Tony Nguyen, Owner, Pho Your Choice 2
“Why should people come to visit your new location over another Pho restaurant?”
In my opinion, when it comes to ethnic food, I’d like to try out the true authentic food, no fusion, no cross between, or Americanized versions. Therefore, our food is the true Authentic Vietnamese food, so you either like it or you don’t.
For example, the way we prepare our beef pho’s broth is by cooking large amounts of beef soup bones for a long period of time, resulting in a tasty flavor which contains bone marrow, all of the calcium and herbs in the broth, while others use beef concentrate. The way we make it is time consuming and costly, but it is the old fashioned and correct way, not the commercial way. We received a lot of feedback from our customers that the new location is more centralized and convenient for a lot of people, which is on the main highway 29 (Wade Hampton Blvd.), with a large parking lot, next to Publix supermarket, so people can go shopping for food before or after.Tony Nguyen, Owner, Pho Your Choice 2
“Are there any menu items that are different from your first location that is new here at Pho Your Choice 2?”
The difference between the Pho Your Choice and Pho Your Choice 2 restaurants is the new one has more seafood dishes. We’re serving Lobster’s tails (market price), Crawfish (cajun style), Fried calamari, fried garlic & salted prawns, sea snails in tamarind sauce, grilled salmon, and Swai fish fillets. Recently, we added a new dish called “Crispy fried rice” (with seafood or any protein) to our menu which will change the way you eat fried rice, you’ll love it.Tony Nguyen, Owner, Pho Your Choice 2
Check out the rest of our blog below for our review of the menu and the awesome food we tried there! 🍲😋
Menu & New Food Review
We were super excited to start with appetizers, so we asked Tony what he suggested.
We ended up getting a couple of different ones to start, as Jamie and I brought Jonathan, our friend Emil, and buddy Max along with us for dinner to be able to try out as many dishes as we could the first time around!
We started with Tony’s Vietnamese spring rolls, which were served cold and stuffed with shrimp, mixed lettuce, and rice noodles. These were served with a peanut sauce, however, they gave me a soy sauce on the side for dipping as I’m allergic. They were similar to the ones we had tried from Thai Basil during Restaurant week about a month ago, and the consensus was that the dipping sauce was what made these awesome!
Next were the Vietnamese Steamed buns (bahn bao) – a soft bun (like a hamburger size) filled with ground pork, egg, and savory ingredients! These were delish if a little crumbly and messy to eat at times.
We tried both the steamed and deep-fried Shumai dumplings, stuffed with ground pork & shrimp, wrapped in a wonton wrapper. The steamed picture is featured here! These were delish and served with tangy soy and vinegar-based dipping sauce.
The Fried tofu was probably one of my favorite appetizers along with the Shumai, which consisted of fresh cubes of tofu (soybean curd) deep-fried, served with veggies, with a sweet chili sauce. To me, the consistency or texture of tofu is really hard to get right sometimes, but they really got the crunchy and soft combination right with this dish!
Onto the mains! Jamie picked the Banh mi sandwich with grilled pork, topped with egg mayo, liver pate, white onion, cucumber, carrots, and white daikon pickles, cilantro, & jalapeno. According to Tony, this Vietnamese baguette sandwich is popular street food in Vietnam, and if the bread is not made right, it would just be another type of sub-sandwich.
Their banh mi is made with selected bread, which distinguishes it from other kinds of bread or baguettes sold elsewhere. The difference is after they toast and load it with proteins and ingredients, it’ll be crusty if you eat it right away or if you take home and eat it later, the bread is still moist and crunchy instead of hard or tough.
Jonathan loved his Crunchy fried noodles (mi xao don)! This popular crunchy fried noodle dish is rare to find in local restaurants. The egg noodles are fried and braided like a bird’s nest while the seafood (or any protein that you select) is stir-fried with mixed vegetables in a thick, juicy sauce to be served on top of the crunchy fried noodles, which will soften it a bit and still have that crispy taste.
Pho your choice (in Vietnamese: pho ban chon means you selected) – We have three types of pho broth: Beef, Chicken, & vegetable. Out of the three, the beef broth is the richest one in flavor because we use the beef leg bones to make the broth. We cook this for long hours, usually overnight which causes all the bone marrow and calcium to come out in the broth. Then we use several herbs to season it, which makes the broth have a rich beef flavor.Tony Nguyen, Owner, Pho Your Choice 2
- Pho Beef Combo includes Beefsteak, meatballs, tendon, tripe, and brisket. If you don’t like a certain part of the beef combo you can tell us to leave it out.
- Pho Chicken is made with chicken bones and served with white chicken meat.
- Pho Seafood served with shrimp, squid, imitation crab, and fish balls.
- Pho Veggies is made with a mixed vegetable broth and served with mixed veggies, with or without fried tofu.
Both Emil and I ended up going classic with their Beef combo pho, with everything included in it above. We dressed it up at our tables with all the fixings, as each bowl of pho comes with a side of Thai basil, bean sprouts, jalapenões, & lime wedges, along with Thai chili sauce and sriracha at the table. It was delish as I hadn’t had a great bowl of pho since moving to SC and would be happy to come back and try the other varieties, especially the chicken or seafood versions!
Max went with the grilled chicken steamed rice dish you see above, which has become his favorite since coming here with Jonathan for lunches on Fridays. Tony says “We have the regular type of fried rice, which is fried steamed rice with one protein (beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, tofu) or a combination of meats or seafood. Then we introduced special fried rice called crispy fried rice which gives you the taste of the regular fried rice but mixed with crispy rice, and the same proteins or seafood combo, and chopped mixed veggies (see picture below).”
“Before we go, do you have any new menu items or dishes that you’d recommend for people to try when they visit?”
Definitely the Lobster tails, stir fried with ginger & scallions or baked with garlic & butter (Market Price)
Crispy fried rice with seafood or combo meat. This is a totally new way of preparing fried rice in a soft but crispy fashion.
Crunchy fried noodles with seafood or any protein or vegetables.
Fried shrimps (heads on) with garlic & butterTony Nguyen, Owner, Pho Your Choice 2
So how was your week, Foodie Friends? Are you going to go check out Pho Your Choice 2 for yourself, or do you have a favorite type of Pho already? Sound out in the comments below to let us know your suggestions of what dishes to make or places we should visit next. As always, feel free to like, comment, & share 🤗