The Buzz finally got around to getting the scoop on the new Pho River Wok & Grill restaurant on Cascade across from the Power Station.
Well, sorta new. It’s been open nearly two months, so this may be telling you something you already know. Business partners Macky Luanglath, James Keopaseuth and his brother, Jesse, bring a bit of a new twist to the recent orientation of the menu in a place that has worn a number of food-service hats over the years, most recently as Mekong Thai and before that as Abruzzo.
The menu features grill and stir-fry options, but its primary focus is “pho” (pronounced “fuh”), a dish common to many southeast Asian countries.
Pho is a hearty soup dish full of sliced meat — chicken or beef — noodles and a variety of vegetables. If you have poked around the Portland dining scene, you know that numerous places feature variants on pho.
“Every southeast Asian country has a different version,” says Macky, who claims Laotian ancestry. “We knew Hood River had lots of restaurants, but nobody was doing pho.”
He met his partners when they all lived in Portland, after the Keopaseuths graduated from Hood River schools. Jesse, who will be running the front of the house for Pho River, previously worked at the Thai House, on the Heights. Macky and James will be sharing kitchen duties.
Macky says their pho recipes came from his father’s family.
“It’s like chicken noodle soup in the U.S.” Macky says. “It’s just good, comfort food. If you’re sick, hung over, it’s good any time.”
He says customers have been happily slurping it down since Pho River opened.
“One lady comes in every other day,” he says.
Other options include the grilled Lemongrass Chicken Thighs with vermicelli noodles, and the restaurant’s version of the popular Thai stir-fry dish, Pad Thai (which includes onion, cabbage, bell peppe, basil, sprouts, egg and chili sauce with choice of beef or chicken).
Pho River is open six days a week (closed Wednesday), from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, and back open from 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner. As of this week, it has a beer and wine license. It hopes to get a spirits license soon and add cocktails to the menu.