Beyond pho


If you’ve never tried Vietnamese food, there are more opportunities than ever in the Lansing area to remedy that situation. The cuisine is fresh, balanced, nutritious and exploding with interesting and intoxicating flavors. Last week, I tried takeout from Pho 777 in Okemos, a new addition to the mix.

As the name suggests, Pho 777 offers a plethora of variations on pho (pronounced “phuh”), a Vietnamese noodle soup with beefy and herbaceous broth that contains a multitude of flavors. I tried its Rare Steak Pho on a separate occasion and can vouch that it’s delicious. The menu also includes vermicelli noodle dishes and banh mi sandwiches, but I wanted to try something I hadn’t had before. 

The 777 Rice Special includes a variety of foods, exactly what I love to see on my dinner plate. A layer of broken rice is topped with a truly impressive grilled pork steak, which tasted of soy, lemongrass, ginger and garlic and was coated in a five-spice rub that came off on my fingers, as I couldn’t help tearing off pieces with my hands. The accompaniments included pickled cabbage, fresh slices of tomato and cucumber, a fried egg and, finally, what really drew me to this menu option: egg meatloaf and shrimp and pork wrapped in fried tofu skin. 

The egg meatloaf was similar to a quiche and contained green onion, cilantro and cellophane noodles, among other ingredients I couldn’t quite identify — maybe seaweed and sesame oil, judging from its aroma. Combined with a bite of the pork and a drizzle of the house fish sauce, it was one of my favorites of the many flavor combinations. My favorite thing by itself, though, had to be the fried tofu skin pockets, which, along with the egg loaf, reminded me of Chinese dim-sum dishes. 

In addition to all of this, you get a small side of pho broth, some of which I poured, along with the fish sauce, all over the pork and rice, some of which I just sipped like tea. A note to the fish sauce novice: If you smell it by itself, the odor might put you off, but you better believe it becomes magical, and essential, when combined with other flavors. It’s the number one reason food from Southeast Asia is so addictive, the offerings from Pho 777 being no exception.  


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