What Do You Think?


Let me Pho and Roll it to you

As many times as I had passed the quaint storefront in Rockville Town Center, “Pho and Rolls” had never grabbed my attention—until I finally stopped to look at the menu.  From the title, I had incorrectly inferred that “Rolls” had referred to sushi when, in fact, “rolls” actually refers to a selection of meats and vegetables bundled together in variations of the typical “summer roll.”  Indeed, they serve the familiar shrimp-lettuce-rice noodle roll drenched in peanut dipping sauce, but I was more intrigued by the sound of marinated ribeye, grilled onions and lemongrass chicken.   Never being one to pass up a new food experience, I stepped into the empty restaurant on an early Tuesday evening.

Pho and Rolls is clean and modern on the inside.  A sparse collection of pictures highlighting various produce decorate green walls, and globes of light hanging from the ceiling illuminate the ample number of dark wooden tables.  Two adolescents greet me from behind the counter situated at the front where I am to place my order before seating myself.  Pho is first on my list of must-tries, even if the $9 price tag for its smaller-than-average size is disconcerting.  The price tag turns out to be my only true complaint about the noodle soup, as its rich broth intensifies the flavor of truly medium-rare beef and springy rice noodles maintain their bite even after a good long soak.  Then it is onto the second half of this restaurant’s namesake—the rolls.  I begin with the classic summer roll (Goi Coun) of course, and it fails to impress me.  Shrimp scream out for seasoning and greens taste watery, although peanut sauce and chili paste help to bump up the flavor.  Grilled lemongrass pork rolls (Thit heo nu’o’ng sa) make up for the lack of flavor in the shrimp summer rolls, and vinegary dipping sauce enhances the salty-sour-sweet combination of the meat.  The grilled ribeye roll (Bo Dun) is the obvious winner of the collection.  I am glad I went with the cashier’s suggestion on this one, because the meat is perfectly tender and tastes of caramelized onions and sticky-sweet soy.  Traditional rice paper is replaced by crunchy peanuts and scallions to add texture, while pickled carrots and daikon radish foil the rich taste. 

My tasting experience may have been pleasant, but my experience with the cashiers was not.  They were unable to answer basic questions regarding the menu and then acted annoyed when I took a few extra seconds to make up my mind (we are the only customers in the entire facility).  Luckily the restaurant is designed to get your food up front and to serve yourself, because I do not believe we would have gotten much help otherwise. 

I would come back to Pho and Rolls for a quick and light bite (rolls are great to eat on-the-go), but I would not rely on it for an ultra-cheap meal.  One bowl of pho and three orders of rolls cost me nearly $30, which is stretching the “cheap” in “cheap eats” if you ask me.  Pho comes in two sizes ($7.50 for small, $9 for large) and rolls serve two people if ordering as an appetizer ($4.50-$6.50).  

Pho and Rolls is located at 33 Maryland Avenue in Rockville Town Center.

By Courtney Shay

MoCoVox Food Critic 

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