Food Flash Review: Spring Rolls with Tofu ($3.99) at Pho 99
What do you do if you are driving around somewhere far from home and you have sudden hunger pangs? Time to get something to eat but you look around and all you see are fast food places and convenience stores. Mostly they are pushing animal meat sandwiches and bar-b-que meats or just plain sugar-fried junk in a box. None of these are options for you anymore if you value your health and your teeth.
So now what to do? I faced this dilemma last week when I was driving a round a little town called Kyle in central Texas. I realized that there aren’t many healthy choices in Kyle but even in the smallest towns there is bound to be at least one Asian food restaurant. Some Asian food places in small towns don’t have the highest standards but they always have vegetables on the menu or dishes that are mostly vegetable, sometimes vegan.
I finally drove up to a place called Pho 99 that is located near the Walmart in the newer ‘hospital district’ of Kyle. I quickly saw that although it was an Asian food place (did not see anyone Asian working there) I might be “batting a thousand” if I really hoped to find a non-meat vegan dish on that menu. Every last item on the menu of almost 70 items fairly shouted that it had a meat component — shrimp, pork, beef or something. There were only two exceptions: Vegetable and Tofu noodle soup (but that will come with a beef broth unless specifically requested otherwise) and the Spring Rolls with Tofu.
I opted for the Spring Rolls: No muss, no fuss, usually quick, not a long wait, and less than half the price of the soup. And indeed out it came without a long wait and it included a kind of mild peanuty sauce. The sauce was definitely better than nothing because everything else about the rolls was completely unseasoned in any way. The ingredients were nice and fresh and well prepared (they were nothing much more than lettuce, a little rice and strips of tofu) but I don’t think I would’ve tasted a thing but for their peanuty stuff and the friendly ubiquitous packets of soy sauce.
Thankfully, I’m a believer that soy sauce makes everything taste better (Mom raised us that way) so I was happy enough with the less than spectacular Spring Rolls. But frankly Spring rolls aren’t likely to be stunning or overwhelmingly tasty no matter where you get them. They inhabit something of the humdrum side of the appetizer world but have long been a steady favorite with meat eaters and vegans alike. Right now I would say that what Spring rolls lack in pizzazz they make up for in availability.
And so, thank goodness little places like Pho 99 in little places like Kyle almost always offer vegetable-only Spring Rolls. A lot of vegans and vegetarians would have to drive around awful hungry looking for a small town Burger King that offers meat-less burgers (not yet, but it should be coming!)