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Originally published April 7, 2011 at 12:31 PM | Page modified April 7, 2011 at 3:20 PM

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Dining Deals

Pho Aroma offers calm elegance and tasty food

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

Seattle Times staff reporter

Pho Aroma

Vietnamese

5605-A Delridge Way SW, Seattle, WA

206-932-4343

Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday

Etc: Free street parking. Visa and MasterCard. No alcoholic beverages. Accessible.

Prices: $

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.

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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