San Leandro Bites: A1 Pho

Standard Vietnamese fare close to our house

A1 Pho is the latest iteration of a series of Vietnamese restaurants that have occupied the same space on the corner of East 14th and Estabrook for the last decade and a half. The space, which hosted a video store when we first moved to town, is large, with windows looking onto the sidewalk plus two different parking , and features flat ceilings. The atmosphere never managed to be anything above cafeteria-style dining. The big TVs, often tuned to sport shows, don’t help with the ambiance. Mostly, these restaurants serve as utilitarian stops for hearty, not very expensive meals. The menus doesn’t seem to change as frequently as the ownership and names of the restaurant, and features pho, grilled meats with noodles or rices and Vietnamese shakes.

We have visited these restaurants from time to time, but as it’s never the sort of food I crave nor is the place nice enough for a dinner out, we frequent them less often than you would imagine, given the location so close to my house. After getting takeout from A1 Pho, I don’t think this will change much. The food was good but not particularly compelling.

Mike ordered the Bánh Mì Bò Kho (beef stew with bread – $16). It came with a small loaf of French bread, similar to the one in the bánh mì sandwich below. He enjoyed the stew very much. He thought the broth was rich and tasty. The beef was tender and fatty, though you expect that from stew meat. The portion was very generous and he was quite happy with the dish.

I had the Bánh Mì Bò (beef sandwich, $9). The flavor of the beef was good, though it was a little overwhelmed by the vegetables. However, as is the problem with most bánh mì sandwiches, the real problem is the bread to filling ratio: there was just too much bread. The bread itself, while very light, felt dry and wasn’t particularly tasty. I’m not sure I’d order this again.

We also shared an order of Chả Giò (fried egg rolls, $9). These were OK, pretty average and unremarkable.

I had a Sinh Tố Dâu & Xoài (strawberry and mango shake, $7). This was also tasty, but not compelling and I wouldn’t rush to order it again. It seemed a bit overpriced – but then again, everything is nowadays.

A1 Pho
2089 E 14th St #A
San Leandro, CA
M-Su 10 AM - 8 PM

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