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“Family Dinner”
Review of Pho Cali

Pho Cali
Ranked #80 of 1,071 Restaurants in Sarasota
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $4 - $18
Cuisines: Vietnamese
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed August 5, 2013

We came here on our last night in Sarasota with my father in law and mother in law to treat them.

Inside is nothing special but our server was incredibly friendly and everyone was very accomodating. Some even stopped to ask us if we wanted them to take a picture of us. The food was really good and the portions great.

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Thank rkl1130
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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169 - 173 of 236 reviews

Reviewed July 20, 2013

After a number of disappointing tourist trap meals in the Siesta Key area last month, we heeded the recommendations from Tripadvisor readers which sent us to Pho Cali, and were thrilled with the results! The Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp was rich and sparkling. We both ordered the Vermicelli with grilled chicken, and the flavors were beautifully layered. A lovely, clean and quiet restaurant to which we most will definitely return! Great prices and terrific customer service. Eat here!

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Thank soobee11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 7, 2013

Pho Cali is in downtown Sarasota. Parking is difficult, but the food is worth the hard to find parking space! The food was marvelous! The service spot on! We had spring rolls, shrimp wrapped in batter, fried rice and Banh Xeo. My husband and I have eaten at many Vietnamese restaurants at home, in Tampa, Ft Myers, Orlando, Cape Coral, and Saint Peterborough. Pho Cali is hands down the BEST Vietnamese we have ever eaten!!(Not including my mother's cooking) he fried rice is not your average fried rice. It has REAL Chinese sausage in it. It is so flavorful you'll forget every other (fried rice) you've had in the past. The oriental crepes (Banh Xeo) were filled with an ABUNDANCE of shrimp and pork. The side vegetables were just the right portion . Need I say more? Go down there to eat, you wont be sorry!

Thank Berrycinnamon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 6, 2013 via mobile

Food was awesome, portions are enormous.
Server is just that. It only takes numbers from menu, does not suggests not understands your needs. If you can handle that you will enjoy your huge portions.

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Thank uvamon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 10, 2013

I'll be a little different here to start by saying that some of the really important things about this place have been addressed dozens of times, and fairly recently. They are definitely "on fire" in terms of local popularity, I think more so than the tourism of the winter months, which have ended. Eighty degrees + now, early May. So tonight (a Friday night) it seems to me that they are very beloved by regulars, even 'off season' now, when restaurants compete for those remaining in town. This has been the buzz of 'to try' restaurants. But I don't think it's anything like battle for votes or tweets or yelps. (Did I just say that?) Because it's not just yelpers... now that I think of it, people of all ages were actually talking and eating, Happily.

Atmosphere is important. We had a short wait (like 5 minutes, as 3 groups all came at the same time, around 8-8:30 ). It stayed full. For the diner, here's my experience - Yes, it does look like it could be another Thai/Southern/Chinese hybrids. I too am skeptical when I see a menu offering, say, Sushi and Pad Thai, or Chinese/Spanish - can the same chef do it justice?

The menu is humongous, pages of glossy specialty types - with photos - which we loved. Again, caution: Is this like "Polynesian" restaurants with any hybrid but un-American sauce and a pineapple slice on the top? Relax. The truth is, it is quite an ambitious menu variety. It's also a fairly big place, (for a small sliver of downtown old-Florida Main Street) . Someone commented, "the poor chef!" meaning that he was working so hard in the tiny kitchen one could see. But the joy at my end was the enthusiasm of the table waiters, and friendliness and effort to be helpful. I asked if Vietnamese food mostly involves chopsticks learned that other than Thailand, almost all Asian traditions involve chopsticks - which is fine with me! Better. Our waitress, young and enthusiastic, seemed proud of the food, as well as its truly Pan-Asiatic influence. No it's not Roy's, and it's not even some of the super spicy/pungent things I enjoy in authentic, 'pure' Vietnamese restaurants in NY. But... it's not Polynesian Polyglot.

Waiting to get a table a couple got behind us and we briefly chatted. She's a fan. What should I get? The seafood stir fry fit the bill (as I said I'd really like seafood) and I soon figured out the way the system works so people get what they order (which they do) is that there are several combinations of ingredients (and several of them rather unusual - like a pink colored shrimp wrap, which I had together with grilled shrimp on a skewer (very nice) and slices of real barbecue-looking grilled pork, with lettuce greens and a sauce.

This is what made it so nice: Our hostess/waitress who gave us chopsticks) saw me assessing what to do with all that food,(I admit, I got the super-expensive dish - $14.95 with all the shrimp and grilled pork. She told me that since I was curious about Asian local eating customs, she should tell me that (like Moo Shoo Pork or Peking Duck) typical would be taking the lettuce and hacking, pounding, massacring a bunch of the shrimp and pork, adding the sauce, and wrapping in a link. I began and she soon returned with another napkin and more lettuce. Even as busy as she was. Real people, real food (lots of choice, maybe not pure flavor of one genre or place, maybe it's not possible in the real world. Restaurant is definitely worth visiting if in Sarasota. On Main Street. A picture's worth a thousand words so here's our meal. But to taste it, visit. On the way out, Tracey told me (since I'd asked), what I had was #132 Triple Delight. (Sound generic Chinese take-out?) It is grilled shrimp, grilled pork, and shrimp paste wrapped in a tofu skin. We got the shrimp spring roll btw, recommended and tasty. Entire meal, 2 main dishes including my "expensive" one, and an appetizer - oh yes, AND 2 glasses of wine, all for a grand total of under $50. (Are we still allowed to say "all good"?)

Our second main dish was the recommended seafood stir fry. The noodles were crispy. Actually a huge bed of them under a combination of Shrimp, Fishcake balls, and squid. It took a while to realize, underneath is more sauce, which works well with the crispy noodles and seafood. Meanwhile we'd discovered the sauce for our spring - hey, it's spring! - was very tasty for the seafood (hers) and crispy noodles, while I discovered all the rice noodles under the grilled things. And that is the system, many of the dishes are either rice or noodle or crispy noodle, with seafood or chicken, beef, or pork. Or (I think) non-meat. Seeing what people were eating while we were waiting, the bowls of 'soup' are really nice looking and these also, like the crispy noodles and seafood, like 9.95.

We didn't ask for super spicy, but I'd bet if we did it would be. I believe the waitress is earnest and proud of the authenticity of many dishes, and explained to me she has both Chinese and Thai roots. She knew her chopsticks and I think what "pan Asian" really means - without paying $150 (food only) at say, a Roy's "Pan Asian" for expense-account visitors. This is real, even if it definitely bends to what people like and ask for. And they're enjoying popularity, and working to be good. They certainly try. You can see their website and menu at www.phocalesarasota.com - Never been there before, but definitely will try to go back.

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1  Thank drmikenyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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