Normally,(I hate to start a conversation with that word) large windows around a dining room is an asset to a restaurant. We don't get much sunlight in the NW, so you have to soak in all that you can get. A nice view can draw your attention away from your worries, allowing for a soothing experience to compliment your meal. At Super Pho on Lancaster just south of Market St., they have the view covered up by bamboo shades drawn down over the windows. This time of year, the sun is at a very low angle blinding anyone looking toward the southern horizon. There's another reason I was happy that Super Pho kept me from seeing the sites of their NE neighborhood, congestion. Traffic, suburban crawl, and the cluster of miles of strip malls along Lancaster Dr. is what you'd see out those windows. Just getting to this place was chaos. The center strip along this road is a free for all for drivers. There's only faded yellow paint dividing the lanes and with the way people drive, you wonder why they even have paint at all.
With all that said, I'd heard good things about this Vietnamese restaurant. Like a lot of Salemites, the exotic options on the menu were new to my palette, so I took some time to try something on the menu that I thought would be basic. By that, I mean, something that is sort of a restaurant standard, a benchmark for how other items on the menu might be. I chose #17 on the menu which is a marinated pork atop vermicelli noodles. My tongue has never had the pleasure of tasting these tantalizing, indescribable flavors before. It was moderately spicy and the meat was soft but not too fatty. I found myself putting down the chopsticks and grabbing as western utensil so I could gain better access to the remaining noodles at the bottom of the bowl.
The dining room was not very busy when I was in there, but it was sort of a late lunch. I was impressed by the server who listened carefully to the intricate demands of my children who wanted their meals cooked a certain way. Often times, this gets fouled up and plates are left untouched or taken back. The server was at our table with water just as frequently as we needed a refill and offered a friendly smile upon each visit. The order was right on for everyone at our table.
The dining room was clean and neatly arranged with a large aquarium alongside the back wall. I did notice some boxes along the floors in the corners toward the kitchen and one table had stacks of service tickets piled up as if someone was doing accounting in the dining room. Not exactly the atmosphere for a romantic dinner but suitable for a business lunch or take out.
It's nice to see new options for Asian cuisine in Salem and my family liked this place so much we've been talking about when we are going back.