As the city of Surprise continues to expand, so do the dining options in the far west part of the Valley. One of the recent additions is Surprise Pho, a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant tucked behind a Church’s Chicken in a shopping center at the corner of Reems and Cactus Road that opened in January.
Although Surprise Pho is a new restaurant, it has a familiarity. Traditional art hangs on the walls as '90s world music plays and bantering voices echo from the kitchen. It’s got the classic, no-frills pho joint vibe – comfortable for kids, parents, friends, couples, and solo guests slurping noodles at the bar while watching World Cup games on the flat-screen TVs.
The menu features the standard selection: soups, rice plates, and vermicelli bowls with various grilled meats, stir-fried egg noodles, and hot stone barbecue dishes, served sizzling on a skillet. Staff say the filet mignon pho and the barbecue pork are a few of the most popular dishes.
For vegetarians and vegans, there are six options, including spring rolls, vegetable pho, and rice or noodles with tofu, bok choy, mushrooms, carrots, and other produce. Menu photos provide a handy guide for folks who are new to Vietnamese cuisine or want to try something different.
According to Surprise Pho’s website, their generations-old recipes focus on fresh ingredients and customary Vietnamese cooking methods. This is evident in the crisp spring rolls, made to order and not pulled from the refrigerator. While premade spring rolls are acceptable and can be really tasty, having them brand new is even better. The wrapping retains more moisture, and each bite of lettuce and sprouts has that much more crunch.
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Don't leave Surprise Pho without trying the egg rolls. Order them as an appetizer or in a combination vermicelli bowl. Bite into the crackling deep-fried wrapper for an earthy mouthful of ground pork and shrimp, onion, carrot, taro, jicama, and glass noodles. The egg rolls are rich and indulgent without being overly greasy – the kind that make you want to take a second helping home for later.
To top it off, the restaurant offers a medley of drinks that could go with a meal or work nicely as dessert. Choose from iced coffee (with optional boba pearls), green tea, Thai tea (with boba option), or intensely sweet Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk.
Surprise Pho. 15693 North Reems Road, #113, Surprise; 623-546-1111.
Daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.