Vietnamese Vittles in the Village

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with rice noodles called bahn po, which originated in northern Vietnam. Photo by Jeannette LaPointe.

A diverse food culture and variety of offerings makes standing out a difficult task for any restaurant in New Paltz. New Paltz’s newest restaurant, iPho, however, manages to separate itself from the pack.

Open since Sunday, April 9, iPho is a small table-service and takeout restaurant that occupies the storefront formerly filled by Andy’s and My Hero. The interior is warmly lit with a rustic vibe and a local-takeout style counter. 

The small space, though often filled during dinner hours, manages to seem lively without being overly busy.

Located on Main Street, just down the block from Russo’s, iPho is in a prime location for foot traffic with plenty of options for parking, a luxury not afforded by most restaurants in New Paltz. Outdoor seating will also make it a perfect summertime stop.

The restaurant brings a taste of Vietnamese cuisine to a town that is lacking in options for delicious Asian food. Though Gomen Kudasai, Bangkok Cafe and Tokyo Sushi all offer authentic Asian dining experiences, none specialize in Vietnamese dishes.

With a menu including items such as bahn mi and various other Vietnamese staples — such as com ga hap gung, a dish of jasmine rice with steamed chicken — iPho provides authentic Vietnamese fare in a friendly, quaint environment.

Family-owned, the waiters and waitresses make guests feel at home while seeming to be comfortable themselves. From behind the counter the banter of employees can be heard as orders are placed and filled.

The chefs also enhance the experience with a colorful, neat presentation of the dishes which complement their flavor. Domed rice finds itself next to an eye-popping arrangement of vegetables and an entrée. 

The highlight of the menu, however, is the pho. A classic Vietnamese noodle soup, pho feels akin to a chicken noodle soup in its heartiness and ability to warm the body from the inside out. 

iPho’s “Special Pho” incorporates the elements expected in a good bowl of pho. Though the ingredients are atypical of most American dishes — pho is often made with tendon and tripe, though iPho’s soup forgoes the latter — they still satisfy the palate. Filling flank, beef meatballs, soft tendon, brisket and eye of round steak are complemented by crisp green onions and fresh, crunchy beansprouts. 

Each soup is served with a spicy, Sriracha-esque chili sauce and a savory soy paste. When added to the soup, they create a dish that would warm anyone, even on the coldest New York day. 

Though many of the dishes on the menu incorporate meat, they do offer a vegetarian section. This, however, seems to be an afterthought. 

The “Vegetarian Pho” offers the same noodles and broth as its meat-based counterparts, but replaces tendon and flank with tofu and broccoli. The dish seems to be in place to appease those who may be on a meatless diet, but is low effort. It would easily benefit from the addition of more vegetables or even more tofu.

Despite a few small gripes, the menu is very well-rounded, with drinks such as tea and bubble tea to compliment the dishes. The bubble tea is the perfect summer drink with a refreshing taste of fruit and fun-to-drink tapioca “bubbles” to tantalize the tastebuds.

With some tender love and care, iPho can easily carve a name for itself in New Paltz. The varied offerings provide something for every customer and every season.