Pho sho’

A sensational trip to Miamisburg’s Pho Mi Vietnamese Restaurant

Hot Spicy Pork and Beef Noodle Soup, or Bun Bo Hue, at Miamisburg’s Pho Mi; photo: Paula Johnson

By Paula Johnson

Vietnamese is a cuisine that isn’t nearly as well known or popular as it should be. After all, it’s considered to be among the healthiest in the world with its focus on fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil, complementary textures, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. People are much more familiar with Thai cuisine due in no small part to the Thai government’s 1970s program to train chefs and export them worldwide. The Vietnamese had no such program, a loss for American dining, to be sure. But there’s a place in Miamisburg where you can familiarize yourself with some of the highlights of dining Vietnamese-style: Pho Mi.

Sour Bitter Sweet Spicy Salty

It’s all about the “big five” in Vietnamese cuisine. The focus here is a combination of some or all of these taste elements, plus variety and harmony of textures. Think crisp with soft, watery with crunchy, delicate with rough. And think colorful, eye-pleasing presentation—a feast for all senses. Common ingredients used in Vietnamese dishes are soy sauce, shrimp paste, fish sauce, ginger, lemongrass, mint, Thai basil, Saigon cinnamon, lime, and bird’s eye chilies.

We began our experience at Pho Mi with some standard appetizer choices, plus a few I haven’t tried before. The most familiar were the Shrimp Summer Rolls ($1.50 each). Known in Vietnamese as Goi Cuon, the literal translation is “salad rolls.” These translucent, cigar-shaped bundles were packed with greens, shrimp, and minty herbs. Nuoc cham is the dipping sauce that accompanies the rolls, and a host of other Vietnamese dishes. It’s as ubiquitous as ketchup is in the U.S. (would that ketchup were as delicious!). Nuoc cham is made with an amalgam of fish sauce, lime juice, chili, garlic, and sugar. Usually bits of shredded carrot or lemongrass are tossed in as garnish. It’s salty, tangy, spicy, fishy, sweet, and exactly what you want for dunking—the perfect contrast to the fresh crunch of the roll.

Crêpe Me Out

Other stand-out appetizers were the Lemongrass Shish Kabobs ($1.95) and some amazing pancakes. The kabobs were flash-fried crunchy bites of skewered pork, which I enjoyed plunging in nuoc cham. Now, about these pancakes. The first was Coconut Pancake ($3.25) (no Vietnamese name given). Our server described it as really sweet, almost like a dessert, so of course I was in. Indeed, it was dessert-like—crispy and sweet with bits of coconut in the batter and topping the pancake. The syrup served with it was even maple flavored. I loved it, and loved even more the next offering, the Shrimp Golden Crêpe ($7.50). Called Banh Xeo (sizzling pancake), this savory, crisp-edged pancake is made with rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric (hence the lovely, golden yellow color) and is pan-fried altogether with pork, shrimp, and a heap of bean sprouts. It was one of the best things I’ve eaten in a Vietnamese restaurant.

Soup’s on

And speaking of eating in Vietnamese restaurants, it’s unforgivable to eat in them without soup, especially the most famous of these known as Pho (pronounced: “fuh”). Pho refers to the rice noodles, not the soup itself, and varies a lot by region. Pho in the north is defined by a clearer broth, while the southern style is more opaque with extra sauces, herbs, and other additions. Pho is served with various meats (usually beef or chicken), bean sprouts, lime wedges, and the essential greens (basil, mint, cilantro, and onions). Pho Mi’s menu has 14 pho variations to choose from plus nine choices of mi, meaning soup made with egg noodles. We tried one mild and one spicy from the pho options, Shrimp and Pork Noodle Soup (Hu Tieu Tom Thit Sate, $7.95) and Hot Spicy Pork and Beef Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue, $8.75). Both soups had aromatic savory broths, with the “hot” soup highly spiced and just delicious. A plate of cilantro, lime, and bean sprouts to add is served with each soup, and there is a basket of condiments on the table to allow for customization of spice and flavor. I added some cilantro and lime, but left the sriracha alone.

We also tried a non-soup menu item, a platter of Lemongrass Chicken, Pork Chop, and Fried Egg ($10.95) served on a bed of rice with dipping sauce. The egg was crispy fried and the rice had a wonderful texture, almost crunchy and slightly sticky at once. Another win for Pho Mi.

We ended with a fried banana with ice cream, even though I had already had the coconut pancake, because who’s counting desserts anyway? The whole meal for three came to just $67.85 including tax. A great value for the quality and amount of food we sampled, I thought as our server packed up what we couldn’t eat.

I’ve just finished the left-over noodles and broth as I write this review. What’s left are the little oily cubes of red chili clinging to the sides of the bowl, along with a few jalapeño seeds and bits of cilantro—this sparse confetti is all that remains of the heat that hums in my mouth and the warmth that’s filled my belly. I can’t wait to return to Pho Mi to experience these tastes again.

Pho Mi is located at 8990 Kingsridge Dr. in Miamisburg. For more information, please call 937.433.7388 or visit

Cuisine (Taste) 50% Max Value (Price based) 25% Max Service (Quality of) 25% Max
49% 24% 22%
Total Rating Score: 95%


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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at

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