A Challenge.

While my hunt for Japanese ramen in Columbus has been disappointing, there is no shortage of another noodle and broth based dish, Vietnamese pho. These noodle shops are popping up everywhere, from ethnically diverse neighborhoods to a revamped Taco Bell building in Upper Arlington. So far, my favorite pho comes from Mi Li, in Columbus Square on the north end of town.

When I mentioned Mi Li to Baseball Boy for a Friday night dinner, he suggested that he order pho, and I bite into my first-ever bahn mi. Yes folks, it’s true; prior to last week, I’d never had the trendy Vietnamese sandwich known for the crusty bread that came as a gift from French colonization. Of course, once we arrived, and saw the familiar condiments waiting for me, it was difficult to stick to the plan.

The garnishes for his pho magically arrived, just seconds after ordering. It was then that I negotiated just a bite or two of his dinner.

Mi Li has an assortment of house-made bubble teas and lemonades on their menu. I decided to try the latter (though I was very curious about something they called salty lemonade.) I was not disappointed with my choice; this was quite possibly the best lemonade I’d ever had.

The bahn mi was good. Not earth-shattering, but good. Mine came with grilled pork, peppers, cucumbers, carrots and cilantro, napped with a little mayonnaise – pretty standard for the sandwich, according to my research. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I kept finding myself wishing that the grilled pork was actually pork belly. In the very least, this foray into the world of the bahn mi made me want to sample more.

This introduces an interesting dilemma into my life. If I’m already committed to trying every pho in Columbus (which I am), how is it that I’m going to introduce a new dish into the mix? Bahn mi versus pho. Pho versus bahn mi. Life, all of a sudden, just got a lot more complicated.

Mi Li
5858 Emporium Square
Columbus, Ohio

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10 thoughts on “A Challenge.

  1. Bethia says:

    I think Mi Li has the best bahn mi in Columbus…. But Indochine’s is worth trying too.
    I liked Huong’s pho. We went there the other day.
    I have another dish to add complication: bun cha
    We have been ona big Vietnamese kick recently too. We went to three different places in a week!

  2. Maya says:

    Proposed solutions:

    1. Wrangle someone into joining you, share both dishes.
    2. Order both yourself, eat half (or all, I won’t judge) of each. Bonus: lunch for tomorrow! Or breakfast!

    You can do it. I have faith.

  3. Amanda says:

    Bring me with you :) We can share! I like Maya’s option!

  4. WDK says:

    I hope you’ve traveled to Bangkok on 3277 Refugee Road or I really couldn’t say you’ve looked very hard in Cbus for great food! Just down the road from there is a new Vietnamese place. Boasts the best pho and this is from it’s people! Try it!

  5. terra says:

    Yes, me too! I am more than happy to purchase and consume pho & bahn mi in the name of science.

  6. Jill says:

    A note on sharing: while a bahn mi can easily be cut in two – or three – pho, I believe, is a difficult dish to share. It involves (for me) sucking up noodles, some of which will inevitably fall back into the dish. A joy for the other person, I’m sure. I suppose the answer would be to ask the restaurant to divide the pho into two, though.

    Nonetheless, I think that a pho/bahn mi outing with Bethia, Amanda and Terra (and any others) would be a delight. Let’s pick a date!

    @wdk No, I’ve not yet been to Bangkok; I’ll definitely add it to my list. So far, I’ve done Mi Li, Lac Viet, Huong, and Pho Asian Noodle House and Grill. I’m definitely a newbie at this.

  7. Maya says:

    Most places will bring you a second (smaller) bowl and let you divvy it up yourself if you tell them you’re sharing. In my limited experience, at least. :)

    You can kinda see the side bowls here, in the third photo down.

  8. LauraHelen says:

    I just tried pho for the first time a few weeks ago – and then managed to eat it every day I was free in Hawaii!! I immediately pledged to start looking for a place when I got back to Columbus and you post this – kismet!! =) Thank you and I will definitely be going there this weekend (if I can wait that long!!)

  9. Jenny says:

    I’m late to the party here…but you can take me on these nomming adventures too…:)

  10. Batarang says:

    Indochine is my fave pho spot. I like pretty much everything there, but the pho is just a touch better than Mi Li, Lac Viet, Pho Asian, etc. I’d like to know the name of the spot WDK is talking about…hmmmm.

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