Pho here, pho there, now pho in Allen too: Super-authentic, pho-centric Vietnamese restaurant Pho Is For Lovers will open a branch in Allen. Owner Diana Tang hopes to have the place open by the end of June.
Pho Is For Lovers, a.k.a. PIFL, first debuted on Greenville Avenue in 2011, with a tightly focused menu: four kinds of pho and five versions of the popular banh mi Vietnamese sandwich. In January 2013, Tang opened a location in North Dallas, in what was previously a Blockbuster store at Preston and Belt Line roads.
Both branches have become destinations for those who grew up on pho as well as foodies with a nose for the real thing, like Boulevardier co-owner Brooks Anderson, who frequents the Lower Greenville restaurant.
Pho Is For Lovers first debuted on Greenville Avenue in 2011, with a tightly focused menu: four kinds of pho and five versions of the popular banh mi Vietnamese sandwich.
"The Greenville Avenue store is a lot younger, with SMU, residents from the Village — we get a lot of people in their 20s and 30s," Tang says. "At the North Dallas location, it's an older crowd with more requests for vegetarian and gluten-free."
At 28, Tang is a young restaurant mogul, but she has a strong family to support her.
"I'm thankful that my whole family has been involved," she says. "I have two younger sisters who are managers. My mother-in-law is making the kim chee. My mom is always in the kitchen in one of the locations; she'll switch back and forth for lunch. My dad will do last-minute errands and has been very helpful with advice."
That includes steering her toward locations that have accessible parking and other promising features.
"There are spaces in Dallas, but it's hard to find what we need," she says. "A lot of our customers are takeout. We want them to have easy access — swing in, get out. I'm lucky that my dad is involved. Whatever myself and my fiancé think about a space, we get my parents' opinion. A lot of times, they'll raise red flags."
The Allen location is in a new center on Stacy Road, west of US 75, just past the outlet mall. "Aside from its ample parking, Allen has a lot of potential for us to introduce pho," Tang says.
The menu will be basically the same as the Greenville Avenue location, plus some daily specials.
"We do four types of pho: beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian/tofu," she says. "I want to emphasize it as a simple thing, it's a noodle dish, it's soup. But we use good ingredients. Our beef has filet, brisket and meatballs. Our chicken is chicken breast. The seafood comes with scallops, calamari and shrimp. Tofu has broccoli, carrot and green beans. But everything is customizable. People might ask for extra vegetables or no noodles."
She has a few starters, rice plates, and five sandwiches with fillings that include grilled pork and roast chicken.
"Korean BBQ is probably the cool one because we started that ourselves in the kitchen, with marinated beef and the kim chee my mother-in-law makes," she says. "We do weekend specials every weekend, items you don't normally see, like yellow chicken curry. My mom's been looking to get more recipes."