Many challenges can arise when turning a passion for cooking into a food business. Recipes you know and love suddenly become unfamiliar as you increase measurements and seasonings to prepare food for an audience too big to fit around the dinner table. Meals are tested, then tested again. Flavors vary from batch to batch until you find the exact taste you’re looking for—that first sip or bite that brings you back to your family’s kitchen. Or, in the case of Phoevermore, to the streets of Vietnam.
With three years of business under its belt, Phoevermore is a go-to for local “fast casual” authentic Vietnamese street foods. What is Vietnamese street food? You may recall the classic soup, Phở (pronounced “fuh”). Invented in the early 1900s, Phở is a soup of bone broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat (mainly beef or chicken). Fun fact: Phở actually refers to the white rice noodles, not the overall soup.
If your broth is lacking, your business will be, too. In the kitchen at Phoevermore it takes 24 hours to mature their broth which is known to be rich in minerals and compounds like collagens, glutamine, glycine and proline. The soup is traditionally served in a large bowl alongside fresh basil, jalapeños, crunchy bean sprouts, cilantro, hoisin sauce and siracha. But, be sure to savor your broth first before dressing your soup. You’ll want to appreciate the complexity of flavors before customizing to your palate.
“Phoevermore is a small and young restaurant, so there is still a lot to learn from our neighbors and our community,” owner Ron Thai said. His awareness that growth equals change goes hand-in-hand with his best trade secret: “Practice what you learn and don’t be afraid to try new cooking techniques.” Thai should know more than most. He’s a full-time computer engineer at NAVFAC Information Technology Center by day and a restauranteur by night.
So, if you’re an experienced computer engineer, how are you able to run a successful restaurant? At Phoevermore, it’s simple: care for those who help run your business. “Open communication and team dynamic are very important to Phoevermore,” said Thai. “We encourage open communication to resolve conflicts, and knowledge sharing to create a happy working environment.” The team at Phoevermore seems to work like a family which, at the core, is how Phoevermore came to be.
Thai grew up in Vietnam and learned cooking methods through his mother’s homecooked meals. Melding that experience with techniques and tastes acquired from Vietnamese street food vendors, Thai and partner Pauline Tran opened Phoevermore to bring Vietnamese street food to 1017 Casitas Pass Road in Shepard Place Shops.
Every restaurant has its challenges, and creating a menu can be one of them. To stand out, Thai and Tran decided to do things a little differently. “We focus on a small menu,” Thai said. “This strategy allows us to deliver high-quality foods with high consistency.” In addition to Phở, Phoevermore also has finger-foods such as Bánh khọt, a buttery bite size Vietnamese snack topped with shrimp, a variety of flavorful rice bowls, spring and egg rolls, and traditional coffee and teas. Gluten free options are available, such as the inventive Pho burger which uses Phở rice noodles as the patty and every ingredient in the soup. Vegetarian meals are also prominent on the menu.
“Compete with yourself,” is the best business advice Thai has ever received. “I’m constantly learning and improving myself.” Their latest venture, bone broth, is now available to the global market through Amazon.com. Search the online retailer to purchase Phoevermore’s signature bone broths, which can be shipped nationally and internationally, making the Phoevermore experience easy to share with family and friends.
Thai’s advice to his younger self: “Don’t focus too much on the small details or you’ll miss the big picture.”
Phoevermore is located at 1017 Casitas Pass Road, Shepard Place Shops.