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By Steven Li on 2006-08-17

August 16, 2006


Oh man, it was sooo hot this week. Hot like you wouldn’t believe. So I said to dad while we were buying bean sprouts from Chinatown, “how about something cool to eat for lunch?”
“Well what do you want?”
“Something coool…like some che with mung beans and a banh mi or a strawberry haupia smoothie!…I dunno, you pick.” My dad often comments how frustrating it can get to eat with me because I’m often bossy and indecisive at once. And that is a hard combo to deal with. So I tried to be nice today, hence the “you pick.”
And he did pick. And that’s how we ended up eating steaming bowls of pho on the hottest day ever. I thought I was going to pass out. But, sigh, the pho was so good I had to stay alive to finish the bowl.

The restaurant name 99 Coffee Shop doesn’t exactly give out “excellent pho” vibes while being surrounded by competing restaurant named “Pho This” and “Pho That.” Heck I bet most would be surprised to know that this “Coffee Shop” carries pho. But just peek inside and one look at the clientele should wipe away any doubts you many have. It’s rarely packed full but there’s always a consistent hum of customers, mostly Southeast Asian. The menu is limited to two pages, one devoted to pho and the other for various noodle soups.

I sat down, drank the entire glass of cold tea in two swigs and placed my pho order. Or rather, dad placed it for me. Sometimes I wonder who’s the bossy one in the family :) I was already sweating before we came in and practically soaking by the time the pho came. Kathy sweating is not a pretty sight.

Veggies to accompany the pho in all their vibrant green and fresh glory. Oooh, raw bean sprouts are so good cold!

The first thing I noticed about this bowl of pho was the unusual quantity of oil floating on top of the soup. I hesitantly took a sip and immediately felt the oil coating my lips. Not a good sign. Until the soup hit my tongue (and burned it too!) – it was so RICH! So flavorful! Beefy, with a strong lemongrass accent. So pure and gah, so good! Forget your concerns about the oil. Suck it up, along with generous cuts of tendon and thin slices of beef. There were plenty of noodles to go along, and between the spoonfuls of hot soup and noodles and glasses of cold tea, I could almost forgive my dad for dragging me here in the hot heat.

Service here, while not outstandingly friendly was very efficient. My glass was never ever empty and I must have gone through jugs of their cold tea. I also noticed many people getting takeout and even more drinking green glasses of iced pennyworth juice. My dad said they were well known for this refreshing health drink and suggested I try some on a hot day. He told me this as we were leaving. Did I ever tell you how much I love my dad? J

99 Coffee Shop
174 N King St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 537-4276

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