Pho Anh-Ha Restaurant – San Leandro

I’ve been waiting for Pho An-Ha, the new restaurant at the corner of East 14th & Estabrook to open for several months now. All the restaurants in the immediate vicinity of my house are of questionable quality, and I don’t always want to cook. I figured, if Pho An-Ha is any good, I’ll patronize it often.
I was in such hurry to try it, that I took the girls there for dinner last Friday night – opening day. The place was very busy, almost all tables were taken, and yet the service was responsive and attentive – though do bear in mind some of the wait staff has limited English. Still, it seemed like the whole Vietnamese community in San Leandro had come over for dinner, and they handled it very well.
I was a little bit disappointed with the menu. It’s pretty heavy on pho and other noodle soup dishes ($5.75-$6.75), and I am just not one for soups. In addition they serve grilled pork, chicken and/or shrimp over rice (most $6.25-$8) or vermicelli ($6.75-$7.50). There is the possibility of getting beef stew over rice ($6.25), but that’s about it: soup and grilled meats. In other words, not much in the way of variety.
I ordered the grilled pork with vermicelli for Mika and had the Pork chop with rice. I also ordered the grilled chicken appetizer ($6) to share. My conclusion was that the meats were quite good, but the portions were on the small side. The grilled chicken, in particular, consisted of 3 tiny skewers of marinated chicken that would not compare favorably (in size) to the sate you get at Thai restaurants. Still, they were almost as expensive as an entree, but they were served plain (though along with your typical vinegary sauce). In comparison, you can get a much larger portion, served with veggies, for a couple of dollars more at Le Soleil, our favorite Vietnamese bistro.
The same can be said about the two main dishes we ordered. The meats were very flavorful and very nicely grilled, but the portions of actual meat were quite small – not a good deal in comparison to Le Soleil.
I should note, however, that each diner gets a free soda (not necessarily a good thing when you are having lunch with little kids – they don’t offer juice or even lemonade as an alternative). They do have strawberry milkshakes, however. The one we had that night – before Mika spilled it all over the table, the floor and herself – was delicious, almost as good as those at Vo’s. But when we went a couple of days later just to get a couple of shakes, someone else was making them and they weren’t that good. Camila didn’t even drink hers (which really, given how caloric these things are, wasn’t a bad thing).
The restaurant itself is devoid of ambiance. The place used to be a video store, and later a hip-hop clothing store, and it hasn’t changed much. There are a couple of large screen TVs mounted on the sides, though thankfully the sound was turned off while we were there.
Service, on the other hand, was fantastic. After Mika spilled the shake on herself, we hurried home to change her, promising to come back later (we live a hundred feet away). We did, and I guess they hadn’t believed our promise, for they had cleared our table and stopped our orders. They were so apologetic for that, however, that they hurried our orders, gave us more free soda and discounted our meals – and they didn’t even include the shake we’d wasted on the bill. So yeah, I feel a little bit bad writing that the place is not necessarily a good value.
In all, I liked the food at Pho Anh-Ha and given the proximity to my house, I imagine I’ll eat there often – but it won’t replace Le Soleil as my favorite Vietnamese restaurant.
Pho Anh-Ha
2089 E 14th St Unit A1
San Leandro, CA
M-Su, 10 AM – 9 PM
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