I don’t even know how to pronounce it. Fo? Fu? Fa? I feel like I should write down my order so I don’t have to say it out loud.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, pho is a Vietnamese soup that is usually full of vegetables, meat, and noodles. There are tons of variations depending on the meat and vegetables used.
My only experience with pho was at Hong Kong Restaurant in the City Market Building in Downtown Roanoke. It was a few months ago on a cold, rainy day and a bowl of hot pho seemed like a great choice for lunch.
I ordered the shrimp pho with a mild amount of spice and I’m definitely glad I didn’t ask for anything more than mild. This stuff was spicy. If I’d ordered the hot version, I’m pretty sure I’d have run out of the building with my hair on fire. I guess that’s part of the idea for soup you eat during cold weather.
Along with the spice, the soup was also loaded with noodles, vegetables, and tons of shrimp. It also came with a generous amount of fresh cilantro, which was probably my favorite ingredient. The cilantro worked to cut some of the heat and it was a flavor that really stood out. I actually liked the pho – it’s just intimidating to try it again because I’m fearful of another place making it even spicier.
If you’re not in the mood for pho, Hong Kong features quite a few other options. They offer the lunch special similar to what you see in most Chinese restaurants in a mall food court – two main items (Beef & Broccoli, Cashew Chicken, Orange Chicken, etc.), fried rice, and an egg roll. It’s on display at their counter in the Market Building and served immediately, and I think it’s marginal.
It’s all pre-made and sits in those containers for a while and doesn’t taste very fresh.
Along with the shrimp pho, I’ve also ordered the vegetable lo mein. It’s a massive amount of noodles that could probably be shared by three people and it was full of vegetables. Order this and you’re set for lunch for the next three days.
Most of the items at Hong Kong are in the $6-$8 range, making it a little cheaper than many other restaurants in Downtown Roanoke. Whether you want the stereotypical “mall Chinese food,” or something more adventurous like a bowl of pho, this tiny restaurant in the City Market Building has you covered.
Update - May 2014
Actually, nothing from Hong Kong Restaurant is really worth your time or money if you want quality Asian food. You'd have better luck buying one of those frozen Taipei entrees from the grocery store.
Hong Kong Restaurant
32 Market Square SE, Roanoke, VA 24011
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