If it seems southwest Fort Worth is positively teeming — or would that be steaming? — with pho, it’s not your imagination.
The traditional Vietnamese soup — and its noodle- and rice-dish counterparts — is turning up on menus in a new wave of restaurants along Hulen Street and southward.
From fancy (Malai Kitchen in The Shops at Clearfork) to homegrown (the soon-to-debut House of Pho across from Hulen Mall) to a new rumored project in the former Beik Mediterranean location in Tanglewood, the land is ripe for the spring-roll pickings.
And you can add Khanh’s Vietnamese Restaurant to the mix. Opened about a month ago along McCart Avenue, south of Altamesa Boulevard, the restaurant is operated by Khanh Dang, who learned how to prepare the cuisine at another family-owned restaurant, Lieu’s Vietnamese in Sansom Park.
Vibe: Quiet and serene, the small dining room has a simple elegance that belies its strip-mall facade. We stopped in on a holiday weekend afternoon and found it empty, but tables soon filled with those looking for a late lunch. On our visit, the walls were neutral and bare, and an attractive dark gray bar — or mini-bar, with its three high-topped seats — almost beckoned at the back. Twelve tables splay across the space, and simple pendant lights work to illuminate the fare.
The food: The menu is vast; all of the usual favorites are here. Pho plays a prominent role — there are 15 iterations — but there are also stir-fry options and vermicelli bowls, rice plates, and an intriguing page of house specialties that includes buttered fried frog legs, filet mignon in special sauce, and grilled chicken with lemongrass and a lemon pepper sauce ($17.99 each for large servings).
The spring rolls ($4 for two) were hearty renditions, stuffed with the usual slices of pork and shrimp, plus bean sprouts and lettuce. Crunchy against their pliable rice-paper exteriors, they were soon obliterated thanks to multiple dunks into a thick peanut sauce accompaniment.
The pho ga (chicken pho, $8.99 for a large) was chock-full of near-shredded excellent white-meat chicken. With its pleasant broth, the hot bowl fought off the chill in the dining room.
The egg noodles with tofu and vegetables ($9.99) was a bird’s-nest tangle of the crispy noodles cradling veggies and diced fried tofu. The latter was terrific, with a crispy outside that gave way to a creamy interior. Sauteed broccoli, carrot slivers and onions crowned the dish, but it struggled from a lack of telltale “gravy,” and the noodles, unfortunately, were past crunchy and bordered on stale.
The chicken with lo mein noodles ($9.99) was chunks of the protein with similar noodles that had softened, wedded to more sauce. It needed a bit more seasoning for our liking, too, something the beyond-liberal dousing of Sriracha could not rectify.
A welcome sight — a children’s menu — meant one kid at the table was slurping up glistening vermicelli with nicely charred chicken ($6.99) while the other downed two plates of serviceable egg rolls like there was no tomorrow ($4 for two).
The verdict: The menu’s odd non-sequential numbering gave us pause — and our server, too — as did some of the prices. If you’ve become accustomed to Haltom City’s legion of affordable Vietnamese options, Khanh’s might surprise you. More positively, some of the food here does as well.
Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant
6901 McCart Ave., #200, Fort Worth
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday