Restaurant review: Phoenix really knows how to do pho

By Eunbi Cho/University of Washington News Lab

What could be better than a hot bowl of pho during the cold, rainy weather of Seattle? (Or, now that spring has arrived, on a warm, pleasant evening?)

A Vietnamese restaurant in Lynnwood serves the best pho in town that I have ever found: Phoenix Restaurant. It has been in business for over 20 years.

At first glance, Phoenix looks the same as any other Vietnamese restaurant: square tables with glass tops, plain walls, not-so-fancy lighting and traditional Asian pictures on the walls. However, once I had my first taste of its pho, it blew my mind. Phoenix is special.

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup made of rice, usually served with beef or chicken. The pho at Phoenix is not too greasy, but not bland either. The rich, unique flavor of its broth is the result of cooking chicken and beef for 15 hours. In other Vietnamese restaurants, I have sometimes seen oil bubbles floating on a bowl of pho. But never during my five years of dining at Phoenix. The pho is also served with lots of veggies and bean sprouts on a side plate.

Kha Nguyen, the owner and manager who bought the restaurant two years ago, said, “We use fresh ingredients. That’s why it tastes good.”

Another thing that I fell in love with is the large serving sizes. The small bowl of pho at Phoenix is about twice the size as those served at Vietnamese places on the Ave in the U District in Seattle. My friend and I ordered one large pho with other appetizers to share and they still made my belly happy.

“I ordered a large size pho and it fills me up. I have to go to work this evening and it lasts all night,” said Andrew Wang, a regular customer.

The appetizers are exceptional. The spring rolls are huge and fresh. One order contains two spring rolls made of three big shrimp, beef slices, fresh vegetables and rice noodles. A spring roll dipped in peanut sauce with Srirancha hot sauce is a taste of heaven. One order costs $3.99. Grilled chicken ($5.99) is another appetizer that I order only at Phoenix. Since it is not fried, it is less fatty and healthier. The killer sweet-and-sour sauce that comes with the chicken cannot be tasted at franchise restaurants. One serving of the grilled chicken includes six to eight pieces of wings, and it is good for sharing between two or three people for an appetizer.


My entrees are always served very quickly, 10 to 15 minutes after I order them. (The spring rolls only took five minutes.) A large order of pho runs $7.25. Two appetizers and one large pho cost my friend and me less than $20.

Moon Hoing, a Vietnamese customer, said, “Vietnamese foods are good and cheaper than other restaurants. … And Phoenix is one of the best around this area (Lynnwood).”

One thing to keep in mind is that people who don’t like cilantro should say so.

Khanh Nguyen, a waitress and sister of the owner, noted that “cilantro has a strong smell. Many people ask (us) to take it out.”

Over two years of serving at Phoenix, Khanh has picked up a few interesting points about the customers. She said more than half who visit this Vietnamese restaurant are Koreans. She also noticed that favorite entrees vary among people depending on ethnicity. According to her observations, Koreans often eat pho—a noodle soup, Vietnamese eat com— an entrée with rice, and Americans “try all sorts of things.”

A few last notes: Parking is easy; there’s room at Phoenix for large groups. Yet, one thing that fell short of my expectations was the menu. There are many choices, but they are in Vietnamese (with minimal English), which made me reluctant to try other entrees.

Overall, my experience at Phoenix was wonderful and I would visit there again, especially when it rains and gets chilly.

Phoenix Restaurant: 14007 Hwy 99, Lynnwood; (425) 743–2591. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday: 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Closed Monday.

(Eunbi Cho is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.)


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