A native of Saigon, Lani Vu moved to America with her family in 1989. Raised in Annandale, Vu is the manager of Pho Saigon 8 — Arlandria’s newest Vietnamese restaurant. Her family opened the restaurant in March and hopes it will become a fixture of the Mount Vernon Avenue restaurant scene.
<b>What does Pho Saigon 8 mean?</b>
Pho is the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, which is our specialty. Saigon is where our family is from. And eight is our lucky number.
<b>Why did your family come to America?</b>
We escaped Vietnam to look for better opportunities, just like everyone else.
<b>Why did you choose Alexandria to open your restaurant?</b>
It’s a great place for restaurants, and everybody comes to Alexandria to dine. We had been searching for about a year before we found this location in Arlandria.
<b>What is your impression of Arlandria?</b>
It’s growing, and we hope to grow with it. We really want Pho Saigon 8 to be a neighborhood place for locals.
<b>How’s the food?</b>
We use a lot of fresh herbs and spices that are healthy. We specialize in noodle soups, so that’s a popular part of our menu. People come here for a big bowl of soup, which is only $5.95. And it’s a big portion. The beef noodle soup is the most popular, but we also have vegetarian noodle soups.
<b>What other vegetarian options do you have?</b>
The "Saigon 8 Buddha’s Delight" is very popular. It has a mix of broccoli, snow peas, bell peppers, carrots, baby corn, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and slices of tofu sautéed in our flavorful house sauce. We serve it with steamed Jasmine rice, and people seem to really like that one.
<b>What’s your favorite item on the menu?</b>
It’s item B1 — Bun Saigon 8 Dac Biet, which has skewered shrimps, grilled pork, crispy spring rolls and crispy stuffed shrimp totu over rice vermicelli. It’s a very big portion, and it’s very well seasoned. I love my crispy rolls!
<b>How do you find the business climate in Alexandria?</b>
Alexandria is undoubtedly one of the strictest cities in terms of getting a permit, and we certainly had our share.
<b>You opened on March 15. What was that like?</b>
It was so exciting! We had a soft opening because we wanted a training day for our staff. After that we had a special promotion of $3.95 for a bowl of soup, and we expected that the restaurant would be swamped. That didn’t happen, but we are still waiting for the day that it will.
<b>How would you describe your menu?</b>
In Vietnam, we eat a lot of soup. It’s like comfort food, and you can have it at any time during the day. So obviously we have a wide variety of soups on the menu. But if you don’t want soup, we have grilled entrees. It’s all very fresh, and lots of people like our fried rice. And then, of course, there’s our famous soft-shelled crab.
<b>What does the future hold for Pho Saigon 8?</b>
I’m hoping there will be brighter days for us because its been slow so far. We want the locals to come and support us.