Vietnamese restaurant joining Downtown Market

Fans of pho can rejoice; a new Vietnamese restaurant planning to open later this summer will serve up heaping bowls of the delicious soup as well as a handful of other Vietnamese favorites.

Pho 616 is converting a space in the Downtown Market now, where it will dish out the popular noodle soup as well as banh mi and summer rolls filled with shrimp, pork and herbs wrapped in rice paper. The restaurant, which will offer a limited menu of three to four items, will also feature one seasonal dish and a seasonal dessert option.

Hot and iced Vietnamese coffee will also be available, and regulars can purchase a “mug club” membership to receive refills at a reduced cost.

Business partners Ty Nguyen and Han Lee own the new establishment and Nguyen’s mother, Cam Loan Nguyen, is its head chef.

Pho 616 will rely on the Nguyen family recipe for its pho broth, which is considered the most important element of the noodle soup dish. The recipe has been passed down through three generations, starting with Ty Nguyen’s grandparents.

Traditional pho is a broth-based soup with noodles, beef and pork, garnished to taste with any combination of lime, basil, bean sprouts, chives, jalapeno, hoisin and sriracha. It takes up to 12 hours to make. The Vietnamese staple has been growing in popularity in the United States, showing up on several food trend lists last year.

Nguyen said “traditional dishes” will be the restaurant’s focus. “We are both passionate about Asian culture and authentic food, as opposed to American fusion versions of traditional dishes,” he said.

Lee also spoke about the importance of simplicity in the Pho 616 menu.

“Vietnamese cuisine gets its amazing complexity from all the ingredients working together, blending the flavors and aromas,” Lee said. “There’s so much texture and nuanced taste in each bite, and we want people to experience that authentic version, exactly as it was meant to be.”

Plans for an adjoining specialty retail shop carrying Asian produce and Vietnamese items is also in the works. The shop will offer sauces including Hoisin, Sriracha and fish sauce, bottled beverages including coconut water and soy drinks, locally-made ceramic pho dish sets, Vietnamese coffee sets, branded merchandise and more. The Asian produce selection will be seasonal, but will include fresh mangosteen, pomelo, jackfruit, dragon fruit, starfruit, lychee and durian.

Pho 616 will offer counter and patio seating for those interested in dining at the Downtown Market. It will also package all its food for easy carry out, paying homage to its heritage as Vietnamese street food, and making it a quick to-go meal option. The restaurant also plans to offer catering services in the future.

Pho 616 plans to open later this summer. It will operate until 9 p.m. each night.

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