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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Gambling On Pho At Boathouse Asian Bistro


The other day my wife cajoled me into joining her on a trip to the glitzy new Graton Casino in Rhonert Park. It was a deal I couldn't refuse: free round trip transportation, $25 free slot machine play credit and a $10 food voucher. It was the latter, plus the proximity of Graton (only an hour by bus from Chinatown) that sealed the deal.

When I had burned off my gambling credit, my stomach was growling. I eschewed the M.Y. China anchor tenant (been there, done that) and headed for the food court area, which includes Boathouse Asian Bistro, a sister restaurant to Santa Rosa's Kettles Vietnamese Bistro.

Boathouse Asian Bistro features phở and bún, with a few Chinese-y steam table dishes for aficionados of "combination plates." The noodle soup choices included "Chicken Phở Soup," "Beef Phở Soup," and "Spicy Beef Soup." I ordered the last, guessing it to be Boathouse's take on a Bún bò Huế.  If so, it was a dumbed down version, with no pork blood cubes, pig knuckle, or pork of any kind. The only meats present were  steak and brisket, and it lacked the lemon grass background flavor of BBH.  On the other hand, it did seem to have a more northern-style broth, without pronounced medicinal overtones of star anise or 5-spice, though it came with a southern-style array of add-in garnishes on the side.

Overall, it was not a bad almost-free ($10.95, or a buck more than my voucher) rice noodle soup by any name, considering the environs. The broth was clean, with a mildly spicy bite to it, the rice noodles neither over-cooked nor under-cooked, and the beef fresh and of decent quality.

Now about those slot machines.....

Where slurped: Boathouse Asian Bistro, Graton Casino, Rhonert Park CA

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