Pho Aroma on Delridge Way Southwest offers calm elegance, tasty food and friendly service.

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In the 11 years I’ve been driving Delridge Way Southwest, the road has been mainly a fast way to get somewhere else. But that was before Pho Aroma, a traditional Vietnamese restaurant that offers some very good reasons to apply the brakes.

Opened last year by Melinda Nguyen and Scott Dang — former owners of Lemongrass near Seattle University — Pho Aroma offers calm elegance, tasty food and friendly service in a neighborhood that has been inexplicably ignored by Seattle’s culinary pioneers.

I feasted there with a friend recently, and watched as a rotating cast of people sat down to sup at the dozen or so tables. Old people, young families, hipsters, single moms with kids, couples on a first date, old friends catching up. They drove up in cars or walked in from the surrounding streets.

All and all, a pleasant place to fill your belly and feel a part of the neighborhood.

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The menu: A respectable selection of traditional Vietnamese dishes, including all manner of pho ($6.25 for a small bowl, $7.25 for a large), fish stew ($8.95), short ribs with rice ($9.50), and grilled pork or chicken with fried egg ($7.25). Vegetarian offerings include grilled tofu with lemongrass ($8.50) and tofu mushroom crepe ($7.50). A medley of shrimp, pork and chicken stir fried with veggies and noodles costs $8, while a selection of curries and other tasty dishes all cost under $10.

What to write home about: The egg rolls ($3) are large and generously filled. The chicken, crab and asparagus soup was creamy and well-balanced, and the fried fish fillet in tamarind sauce was as light as a cloud. Grilled pork banh mi is a steal at $3.50 ($2.75 if you order to go).

The setting: Red and mustard-colored walls create a warm vibe in what is, at its soul, a family restaurant. A dozen or so tables means you can expect a wait during the busy dinner hour, but the tables turn over pretty quickly.

Summing up: The bill for pork rolls, chicken/crab/asparagus soup, chicken and shrimp rice combo, and fried fish fillet with tamarind sauce came to $36.80 with tip. To quote my friend, Michael, “Definitely one for the weekly rotation.”

Susan Kelleher: 206-464-2508 or skelleher@seattletimes.com

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