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Arts & Culture

Pho is Good, but Viva's Bun is Better

Photo: Justin Parr, License: N/A

Justin Parr

Top row L-R: fish sauce, garnish plate, No. 31 flank steak pho tál; Bottom row: bun thit nuong chá gio, orange honey ginger tea

Number 48 on the menu and one of six vermicelli options, an order of bun thìt nuong chá gio yielded deliciously seasoned charbroiled pork with sprouts, chopped lettuce, carrots, and cucumber on a bed of rice vermicelli. A splash of fish sauce completed the mouth-watering juxtaposition of warm, savory pork and cool, crunchy veggies and noodles. While pho, the restaurant’s namesake dish, is a safe and tasty bet, the vermicelli just may be Viva’s ace in the hole.

Viva’s menu carries a handful of desserts, but the six fruit and milk bubble teas command more attention than tiramisu or fried bananas. With tapioca pearls and burst-in-your-mouth jelly balls, the numerous teas, slushes, and smoothies cost between $3.45 and $3.95. A few beverages included floating basil seeds encased in a halo of translucent gel, which brought a surprising and agreeable hint of spice.

Small, mostly solid chunks of fruit- flavored jelly swirled in the bottom of several milk and fruit teas. At best, the gelatinous cubes were a distraction from the tapioca pearls and basil seeds. At worst, they added an unwelcome diversity of texture and flavor to some already too-sweet drinks. The orange honey ginger tea, for example, mounted a saccharine assault on the senses that was intensified by the inclusion of every possible pearl, boba, jelly, and seed. The milk honeydew tea, on the other hand, struck the perfect balance of milky and faintly sweet, making for an enjoyable bubble beverage experience – despite the pervasive jelly cubes.

Viva Pho Vietnamese Cuisine & Teabo Lounge

2114 NW Military, (210) 399-9449
Hours 11am-10pm Tue-Sat, 11am-10pm Sun
Best Bets Pho, vermicelli bowls, milk teas
Prices $-$$
The Skinny Classic light and tasty Vietnamese fare and bubble teas in Castle Hills.

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