There appears to be a language barrier between me and my oldest niece. She got a cell phone for her 14th birthday, and OMG, she’s gone hashtag cray cray (crazy) with the txtng (texting). I have to look up all of her abbreviations and ’net slang on Urban just to understand what she’s saying. And it’s usually nothing. I mean, she’s only 14, so IDK (I don’t know) WTF (what the F#@k) she’s saying half the time, but I find myself SMH (shaking my head) a lot.

Through all of her internet hieroglyphics, I somehow managed to figure out that she likes Asian cuisine. So I took her to lunch at Pho Noodle Grill (4601 W. Fwy., Ste. 214) for her birthday, on the condition that she put her phone away while we ate.

The décor is swanky for a strip-mall eatery, with its high-domed ceiling and trendy art on the walls. My niece told me the place was totes adorb (totally adorable), which she assured me was a good thing.


On a recent weekend lunch, the place was busy, and the staff gave off a vibe of hurried panic reminiscent of people fleeing the attack of a giant reptile rampaging through the streets of Tokyo. But when our server eventually greeted us, he was polite and efficient, if affected. #lunchrush

We started with the pot stickers ($5), filled with chicken and served on a piece of wilted lettuce, with a soy dipping sauce. The bland dumplings weren’t the most thrilling way to start a meal, but pot stickers are like back rubs –– even when they’re bad, they’re good. #losethegarnish

My niece is not the most adventurous eater. Just last week she eschewed my delicious leftover Mussaman curried chicken ($9.25) from Happy Bowl Too (3431 W. 7th St.), with a sweet yellow curry sauce, onions, cashews, and potatoes. Instead she ate an apple and microwaved popcorn for lunch that day. #lunchfail

At Pho Noodle Grill she went for the pedestrian beef and broccoli ($9.99), with slivers of meat stir-fried with broccoli, carrots, onions, and a sauce that tasted like a mixture of soy and hoisin. But I ordered the very authentic pho ($8.50) with flank steak and meatballs. The beef broth was rich, intense, and as flavorful as I’ve ever had –– the menu boasts that it is simmered for nine hours. The flank was tender, but the meatballs were like a dog’s chew toys. The noodle soup came with the usual condiments of fresh basil, jalapeños, and sprouts. But the kitchen didn’t supply the same quantity of those much-needed extras as do places like Pho Nam Restaurant (4045 E. Belknap St.). #moresproutsplease

Niece was thrilled with lunch and no doubt texted and/or tweeted all of her friends as soon as we finished about how awesome it is to be Chow, Niece.

OK, I doubt that happened. It was probably something more like, “ABT2 die hanging with old ppl. J/K LOL.

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