all photos Corey Rae Rodda/Catalyst
I strive to eat vegetarian, but I have my indiscretions. I gobbled down a paté smeared Vietnamese sub filled with barbecue pork, grilled chicken, carrots, cucumber, parsley and a menacing wedge of a jalapeño pepper at J.R. Phò Vietnamese and Thai Cuisine at 1303 Dr. Martin Luther King Hwy.
A crunchy, toasted baguette served as the sub roll. It came wrapped in parchment paper with a fork and knife stoically resting at its side.
The sub cost me $7 and was the perfect amount of food, but did not lend itself to leftovers. People with more grandiose appetites may be dismayed with the smallness of the sandwich. The meat was grilled to perfection though — moist and tender.
J.R. Phò Vietnamese and Thai Cuisine serves both Thai and Vietnamese food. My friends and I ordered Thai iced tea, which came served in a curvaceous, fluted glass. The tea was pricey at $3, but wetted our sweet tooths — I am a sucker for cold drinks served in mile-high glasses. Second-year David Scrivener ordered drunken noodles, which were tasty, but ran around $14. The noodles reminded me of the Amish egg noodles that my dad makes in his chicken corn soup — a soup that tastes of my thumb-sucking years. Most of the noodle dishes on the menu range from $12-$17. The portions are large, but do not make up for the price.
Second-years Clara Aragone and Wesley Beggs ordered the same type of sub that I did, but with grilled pork. They were pleased with their choice that was filled with more red meat than mine.
J.R. Phò Vietnamese and Thai Cuisine is located in a strip mall a few minutes down the road from the Hob-Nob Drive In. Its interior is pleasing, but informal. Ten to 12 tables are arranged in the small restaurant. A mosaic of a Vietnamese sub adorns one of its walls and white pendant lights hang from the ceiling.
As a native Buffalonian, I may be too well-acquainted with good, cheap food. I was hoping that this restaurant could fill the void of my beloved 99 Fast Food Restaurant in Buffalo which serves up Vietnamese subs in chewy-fresh-from-the-bakery baguettes for a mere $3.50. Those subs were bigger than their Sarasota sisters. Dinners, which often cost $5, came with a choice of a spring roll, a small bowl of pho with meatballs (that contained tendon) or a plate filled with strips of barbecue pork. At 99, I ran into people from all walks of life. The eatery felt like a living, breathing entity that fostered a culture of its own. It is unique amid so many strip mall eateries.
J.R. Phò Vietnamese and Thai Cuisine had decent food, but was not budget-friendly enough for my taste. It was not special enough to warrant a trip back from this Catalyst staffer. I wish Vietnamese Sub and Pho’s owners bonne chance, but was hoping that it would be more of a diamond in the rough — a rusty spoon that would feel like home to me.
Evaluation: Marginal Sat