Just in time for the cold weather, the chef and the owner at Zen Zero are collaborating to create a pop-up pho restaurant, Pho That, on the second floor of La Parrilla open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Subarna Bhattachan, owner of Zen Zero, La Parrilla and Genovese, has teamed up with one of his chefs, Thu Tran from Zen Zero, to create an authentic eatery where customers can get homemade pho (pronounced “fuh”). Pho is a Vietnamese soup that consists of beef broth, rice noodles, meat, and oftentimes topped with bean sprouts and fresh herbs.
“What inspired [it] is basically [Tran] had worked at a Vietnamese restaurant before and finally we got around to talking to her, along with some of our service staff, and she said ‘OK, let me make you a sample,’” Bhattachan said. “A lot of places they don’t make things from scratch and homestyle like how she makes it at home, and so we felt like that was missing in Lawrence.”
Bhattachan and Tran are committed to making the pho as authentic as possible, even in how they source their meat. Bhattachan said they bought the beef and beef bones from Steve’s Meat Market in De Soto, and that’s what makes their pho stand out from others.
“The trick to the broth is to make [it] from scratch,” Bhattachan said. “When she did that and we tasted it, we really felt like that was the perfect thing.”
For now, the menu is simple. A couple of appetizers and five different types of pho can be ordered: chicken, beef, seafood, veggie or combo. If you’re interested in trying pho with some friends, there’s a size for that.
“The pho sizes are like three different: regular, large and we have this thing called mondo, more for four people to share,” Bhattachan said.
Pho That has been open four weekends and has only been advertised through La Parrilla’s Facebook page. Ashley Conway, a Lawrence resident, recently tried Pho That after she saw an ad online.
Conway, a pho fan, has tried pho in many places including Hawaii, California and Kansas City. She said, though the taste changes depending on the area you’re in, good pho has distinctive qualities.
“It tastes pure,” Conway said. “It’s clean, light and comforting.”
Pho That is currently set up as a pop-up restaurant on the second floor of La Parrilla. It has plans to be open all day in the future given the turnout of current pop-up weekends.