It is the rare Vietnamese restaurant where I don't try the pho, the beef noodle soup that might as well be Vietnam's national dish — and I certainly will go back to Phuc Loi and try its version — but inspired by my experience with the bun bo Hue, I opted for another soup I'd never had before, bun mang vit. This brings a soup much like pho, the broth's anise-like sweetness balanced by a lingering earthy note. In place of pho's various beef cuts were duck (a leg and a thigh) and bamboo shoots. The duck imbued the soup with a much more succulent quality than pho has. On the side was a very small container of a ginger-based condiment. I wasn't sure whether to add this to the soup or dip pieces of duck in it, and I'd gotten the soup to go so I couldn't ask. I went with the latter, and the salty, ginger-bright condiment gave the meat a lovely spark.

For all this talk of the new and different, I must admit that my favorite dish at Phuc Loi — the reason I'll be returning, on my own dime, frequently — is the banh mi. This sandwich has become exceptionally trendy in New York City of late, but its appeal is simple and universal. Banh mi are delicious and shockingly cheap. At Phuc Loi $3.50 scores you the banh mi dac biet, which layers ham, headcheese and pâté on a crusty baguette with cucumber, pickled daikon, carrot and a bracing quantity of raw jalapeño. Phuc Loi then adds a masterstroke: one whole fried egg, the white adding yet another savory note to all that pork, while the yolk — liquid, but not runny — contributes a fatty richness that even the finest mayonnaise couldn't provide.

And it's only $3.50.

Pho real: Phuc Loi boasts an extensive menu of traditional, affordable Vietnamese fare.
Pho real: Phuc Loi boasts an extensive menu of traditional, affordable Vietnamese fare.

Location Info

Map

Phuc Loi

3723 Gravois Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63116

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: St. Louis - Tower Grove

Details

Slideshow

Go into the kitchen of Phuc Loi with our slideshow.

Phuc Loi
Banh mi dac biet...$3.50
Bun bo Hue...$6.50
Com bo luc lac (No. 23)...$8.50
3723 Gravois Avenue; 314-772-7742.
Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun. (Closed Mon.)

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When the little voice inside your head asks if, at that price, shouldn't you order two — and if you're like me, that little voice is always asking you things — say yes.

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