Pho 813, a Millenia-area outpost of a restaurant out of Tampa (hence the 813), doesn’t look like much from the outside. In fact, sitting between a Chipotle and a Zöe’s Kitchen in a small outbuilding in front of a SuperTarget, Pho 813’s facade looks rather bland.
But inside is bright and pleasant, and so were the staff when I visited. Even better: the food was all quite good.
I started with an appetizer of shrimp summer rolls, even though it was a few days before the start of spring. The fat rollups were filled with rice vermicelli, mint leaves and lettuce with whole shrimp visible through the translucent rice paper wrappers. Actually, the shrimp were bisected and only appeared to be whole, but the effect and flavor were still good. I especially liked dipping the rolls in the thick and crunchy peanut sauce.
You don’t come to a place with a name like Pho 813 without having the beef-broth soup, regardless of what area code you’re in. I selected the beef deluxe, which had a little bit of everything cow – sliced beef, brisket, tendon and Vietnamese style beef meatballs. The broth was clear and full flavored with that distinct floral aroma. The soup also included rice noodles, chopped scallions and cilantro with add-ons of bean spouts, basil, lime and jalapeños. All the meat was good but I especially liked the dense meatball and the chewy, fattylike tendon.
I also sampled the bun vermicelli with grilled pork, a hefty serving of noodles over lettuce and lots of chopped pork. The dish also included a deep-fried egg roll and pickled daikon radish and carrots. All tasty when doused with fish sauce.
I was pleased with my Pho 813 experience, and I’m anxious to return and try one of the banh mi sandwiches that it also features on the menu. A big plus is not having to drive to Tampa for it.