Pho now, L.D. Pho has Lincoln Square's only proper pho | Bleader

Pho now, L.D. Pho has Lincoln Square's only proper pho


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Pho dac biet, L.D. Pho

In terms of its commercial offerings, Lawrence Avenue west of Western in Lincoln Square looks kinda Balkan, its smoky bars and dingy coffee shops crowded with an older population of domino-slapping Greeks, supplanted by more recent arrivals from the former Yugoslavia. You wouldn't think of it as a Vietnamese neighborhood just because you can buy the city's best banh mi at Nhu Lan Bakery. But if you subscribe to the rule of threes to determine whether something is an actual "thing," you have to take into account the two recent arrivals just down the block, the Vietnamese billiard hall/coffee shop Cafe Huong, which rivals some of the Greek places for its intimidation quotient, and L.D. Pho, a modest but impressively busy restaurant that opened just a few months ago.

Chef-owner Liu Dang, a veteran of a few sushi bars, told me he targeted the spot simply because you can't get pho in the neighborhood. Well, Nhu Lan makes it, but only for takeout, and there was no place for a sit-down with the proper accoutrement—herbs, lime wedges, bean sprouts, fish sauce, chile sauce, and hoisin—arrayed before you to doctor your own brew. The bowls at L.D. Pho are oceanic; the large size is only $1 more than a $7 small. That's excepting the house special, or dac biet, featuring the full range of beef bits—brisket, flank, tendon, tripe, and meatballs—for $1 more. Dang's broth is plenty fragrant with five spice, concealing a tangled forest of rice noodles under the floating greenery. This is the reason take-out pho is usually a losing proposition—and why every neighborhood deserves a sit-down spot. Those noodles quickly absorb the broth, leaving you with a plastic tub of starch bordering on porridge. L.D. Pho will package orders, but you might as well just get a plate of bun kho, noodles sans soup with grilled pork, shrimp, chicken, or fried egg rolls.

Cha gio, L.D. Pho

Speaking of which, those cha gio are interesting, fried crispy and filled with rice noodles and tangy pork that almost tastes like the fermented nem chua. Dang says no. I say, how come?

The menu isn't nearly as epic as the typical Argyle Street pho shop, but you can get some other things, like the standard rice plates (com dia), salt-and-pepper shrimp, frog legs (stir-fried in curry or deep-fried with butter), mussels, iced coffee, and a couple choices of banh mi. But if you wanted a sandwich you'd go down the street to Nhu Lan, right? It's all about the pho here.

L.D. Pho

L.D. Pho, 2739 W. Lawrence, 872-208-7606


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