Food & Drink

Super Bowl

Pho noodle soup is hot stuff at Indochine.

AFTER SHAMEFULLY LAGGING BEHIND Baltimore and Howard counties in the Vietnamese food department, Baltimore City is finally reaching some measure of pho respectability with the arrival of Mt. Vernon’s Indochine (joining stalwart Mekong Delta and Canton’s new Saigon Today). 

Although its moniker is vague, Indochine is actually a straightforward pho joint. And this is a good thing. The owners are veterans of the craft, having two other outposts in the highly competitive noodle-soup market in the Washington, D.C., suburbs of Montgomery County, and, as such, the pho ($7.95-12.95) is solid—noodles cooked just shy of done (the broth should finish the job), good fresh toppings, and industry-standard large portions. The all-important broth is of the more home-style variety—slightly darker, less clear, and a touch sweeter than at some other spots, but very beefy, full of flavor, and deftly spiced. (There is also a vegetable-based broth option available.) The garden rolls ($4.95), stuffed with shrimp, pork, or just vegetables, are remarkable for their abundance of mint leaves in summer and Thai basil in the colder months.

Although pho is the only noodle soup on the menu, Indochine also offers excellent bun ($8.95-13.95), which is usually comprised of grilled meat or seafood atop soft noodles about the thickness of spaghetti and garnished with greens and peanuts (upon request), as well as Vietnamese fried rice ($8.95-12.95), and Chinese-style main courses such as orange chicken ($11.95). An assortment of stir-fries, including sesame chicken ($11.95) and beef with basil sauce ($10.95), are on hand, as well.

For the uninitiated, take our advice and finish off your meal with café sua da ($4.50)—hair-on-your-chest strong coffee and sweet condensed milk served iced. Aficionados may notice that prices are a bit steeper than the norm. Consider the extra few bucks a surcharge for not having to drive out to the county to quell your craving for Vietnamese food. Finally!

Indochine, 1015 N. Charles St., 410-539-4636, Hours: Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; appetizers: $4.95-7.95; entrees: $6.95-16.95.