Do you like food and fun? Subscribe to the Food, Drink & Fun in Fresno newsletter here.
Do you like pho? How about menudo?
The owner of a new central Fresno restaurant couldn’t decide which he liked better – Vietnamese food or Mexican food – so he decided to open a restaurant selling both, along with tacos.
I Love Pho Menudo & Tacos opened in the spring at the southwest corner of Fresno Street and Clinton Avenue.
Owner Binh Phan left a career as a mechanic to open the restaurant with his teacher wife.
“Being a mechanic for so long, I just wanted to do something new,” he said.
He’s Vietnamese and knows how to cook Vietnamese food. But he also spends a lot of time around Hispanic friends and workers, and learned to cook Mexican food, too. He even speaks a little Spanish.
Menudo is a Mexican soup with a red chili pepper base that is made here with honeycomb tripe (a cow’s stomach lining) and cow’s feet.
While many restaurants serve menudo only on weekends, I Love Pho serves it daily.
It takes Phan about three hours to make. A bowl sells for $8.79.
Phan admits that some customers are a little surprised to see who’s making their menudo.
“They have doubts that an Asian guy is cooking,” he said.
However, those doubts seem to disappear with the first mouthful of menudo.
Other Mexican dishes on the menu include ceviche and tacos. The al pastor tacos made with marinated pork are popular, and the restaurant also has tacos made with tripe and lengua (beef tongue).
“I think the pho sells more than the menudo,” Phan said.
The Vietnamese soup with rice noodles and beef broth is probably the restaurant’s biggest seller. There’s several variations of it here.
You can get it with rare steak or filet mignon meat, or buy chicken pho or seafood pho, both made with chicken broth.
There’s a build-your-own option where customers can pick from all kinds of meat and seafood options. And there’s kid’s pho that comes in a smaller size.
Phan’s mother is a vegetarian, so there’s even a vegetarian pho on the menu. It’s served with vegetables and tofu and customers pick whether they want a vegetarian, chicken or beef broth.
It’s cooked using a different pot and spoon, reflecting his mom’s habit of keeping her vegetarian food “clean.”
You’ll also find other Asian dishes on the menu, including egg rolls, rice plates and vermicelli noodle bowls.
Banh mi sandwiches are on the menu, too. These are the Vietnamese sandwiches served on French bread with cilantro and jalapeños. Traditionally, they’re filled with headcheese, which is not cheese at all, but made from pieces of the ear, tongue and nose of a pig’s head.
The sandwiches are also available with pork, chicken or beef instead.
Most dishes on the menu range from $5.50 to $11.99.
I Love Pho is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, from 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays through Sundays, closed on Mondays.
Bethany Clough: (559) 441-6431, @BethanyClough