ON THE MENU — Pho Neches fuses traditional Vietnamese cuisine with Asian favorites

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, July 22, 2020

PORT NECHES — Pho Neches is a play on the two things the restaurant loves most — Pho and the community of Port Neches.

Husband and wife duo Trinh Tran and Chuck Dinh opened the Vietnamese-Asian style fused eatery in Mid-County last year and it’s been a huge hit ever since.

Owner Trinh Tran said it all started with weekly family cookouts.

Trinh Tran, right, and husband Chuck Dinh own Pho Neches in Port Neches.

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“We love to cook,” Tran said. “I used to teach, so on the weekends that was our days to cook. I tried to make something different every weekend, whether it was Pho or something else. My husband loves to cook, too. That was kind of our thing. He’d prep and I’d cook. It was a thing we loved to do together.”

Tran’s family is composed of generations of cooks and food lovers. Dinh’s family is one of businessmen and entrepreneurs.

Together the Port Arthur duo brought generations of family and friends together to open their own kitchen.

“Our friends always told us our food was good so we took that leap of faith,” Tran said.

The artwork inside Pho Neches is hand-painted.

The family chose the 2370 Nall St. location because of their love for the community and its lack of local Vietnamese cuisine.

“It’s a nice plaza and when we came to visit everyone was really inviting,” Tran said. “I like the space. It’s the area. My kids go to Port Neches and they didn’t really have any Vietnamese cuisine on this side of town. Both my mom and (Dinh’s) mom came and said it was a good position, and that’s a big thing in Vietnamese tradition. Moms have that sort of intuition.”

The moms influenced Tran’s restaurant in more ways than one.

Many items on the menu are traditional Vietnamese recipes handed down through generations and mixed together with other cultures.

The appetizer platter includes eggrolls, salt and pepper chicken wings and Sate wontons. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“It’s what we like to eat,” Tran said. “We want to serve what we want to eat. It’s our tradition and good quality food. If we won’t eat it, then we won’t serve it.”

Customary Vietnamese fare includes dishes such as Pho, eggrolls and spring rolls mixed in with an Asian fusion of salt and pepper wings and fried rice.

Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat. It is considered Vietnam’s national dish.

“It’s aromatic,” Tran said. “The best days to eat it is on rainy days and cold weather.”

Pho Neches, 2370 Nall St. Suite E, is a Vietnamese-style restaurant. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

The restaurant’s most popular main dish is its namesake.

Pho Neches is a traditional pho base mixed with eye round, beef meatball, tripe, brisket, tendon and topped with a beef rip. Two other top sellers include the charbroiled pork vermicelli bowl and the shaken beef with fried rice.

Popular appetizers include the eggrolls and springs rolls, Tran’s mother’s recipe, as well as the salt and pepper chicken wings or what they call “mama’s wings.”

The restaurant, which has been open for 18 months, was voted best Vietnamese cuisine by Port Arthur News readers during balloting in July.

Tran said the honor is a big deal.

The special fried rice includes chicken, pork and shrimp.

“It’s the quality, for sure,” she said. “You know that you are coming here and that everything is going to be fresh. We’re just serving good food. We serve what we eat.”

Upon entering Pho Neches, customers can expect to be greeted by a welcoming ambiance and inviting employees.

Tran encourages everyone to step outside their comfort zone and come try the food.

“Pho is very different,” she said. “So usually if someone comes in here and is hesitant to try something different. I try to start them off with something they are used to eating but with our twist. Our fried rice is the bomb, so I steer them towards that and hope they branch out. Just come in and try it. You won’t regret it.”

Customers often take photos in front of the ‘Phoever Young’ wall.

Pho Neches, 2370 Nall St. Suite E, is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed on Mondays.

Dine-in and to-go options are available. Masks are required to enter the building.