Located on Main Street in Sarasota, you’ll find Pho Cali. There’s nothing remarkable on the outside but as I stepped in, I found the staff to be very friendly. For a Tuesday afternoon, I was surprised how many guests were there. I was a bit under the weather and felt like Pho would do me some good. For those unfamiliar with Pho, it is a large bowl of soup consisting of noodles and you add fresh items on top such as bean sprouts, jalapenos, cilantro and basil. This is definitely my “go-to soup” when I’m feeling under the weather.
The menu is very extensive but unfortunately I didn’t see any banh mi (the Vietnamese sandwiches). The prices were a bit steeper than I would have imagined but being located in the downtown area, that is expected. After looking and looking, I decided on two appetizer soups. I ordered the “tom yum soup with shrimp” and the “Vietnamese beef ball soup”. For the both of those combined, it would have been the cost of one of the Pho soups anyhow.
The soups came out fast and I was ready to chow down! I tried the Vietnamese beef ball soup first. Honestly, the broth was okay. Nothing spectacular. It actually almost tasted like the broth for wonton soup. With any soup, you really want the broth to be impactful but subtle. I found it lacking in that department. The meatballs were as expected and I was content with the amount. I am not a novice to Vietnamese food; however, I was unaware that the soup would not have any noodles at all. This really should be indicated on the menu for patrons. I was fine with not having noodles because I was wanting more soup than noodles but had I wanted some, I would have been a bit caught off guard. This soup was just okay for me.
The tom young soup with shrimp was by far a better choice. I really enjoyed the sweet, sour, spicy flavor from this soup. Again, as a forewarning, this soup did not come with any noodles as well. The onions were a bit big for the soup but all in all, I would pick this soup over the Vietnamese beef ball soup. The shrimp were large but slightly overcooked. It went past the point of no return. Despite the overcooked shrimp, the soup was very enjoyable. Between the two soups, I was filled and got my soup fix in the for the day.
I would return here to try their other items as they offer pho, bun, rice dishes and boba. For the price versus quantity, it’s a bit much. Overall, a decent experience.