Just because it calls itself a pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) restaurant doesn't mean that pho is the best thing to order. Case in point, when I walk into Pho Dung (11201 Bellaire Blvd # 815) in the Hong Kong City Mall IV, I notice as many rice dishes on the tables as I do noodle soups.
A friend of mine says she always orders Pho Dung's bun bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-style beef noodle soup), and I like to order the com chien ba mien, which literally translated means "fried rice of three regions."
Served on an attractive square plate, the orange-hued tomato-laced fried rice always seems to get my saliva going. Topped with "three regions" worth of ingredients -- lemongrass beef, chargrilled chicken, and two types of shrimp, small whole shrimp, and a fried shrimp cake wrapped in dried bean curd sheets -- the plate is always impressive.
Granted, ringing in at $8.65, it's one of the most expensive dishes on the menu, but when I'm hungry, the slightly greasy, oh-so-tasty fried rice combo totally hits the spot. If you eat it in the restaurant, it's served with a side of tangy fish sauce and a small bowl of consomme to help wash it down. It's a fairly large dish, and I always tell myself I'll pack half of it to go, but once I start eating it's hard not to clear the plate.
I hadn't been to Pho Dung in a while, and while it won't win any prizes for cleanliness, I didn't feel the need to re-wipe-down my cutlery because my fork and spoon came wrapped in a flat wax paper bag.
Along with a new fish tank and a new flat-screen TV playing the local Vietnamese cable channel, the clean cutlery appears to be part of an effort to gentrify the place and make it more friendly to non-Vietnamese patrons.
In fact, the new glossy laminated menus, complete with pictures of each type of meat and English translations, is one of the most educational pho menus I've seen.
Most of the dishes cost $6.50, so even if Pho Dung is not known for the best pho in town, you might want to give it a try. Or you can do as I do and get the fried rice.