Ever wanted to add a bright red lobster and chunk of beef serving up that delicious surf and turf to a bowl of pho? A new modern pho restaurant in Rockville offers that different option and more.
Tom Chen, franchise owner of T-Swirl Crepe in Rockville since 2017, added his new business XO Modern Pho & Grill to his franchise location at 313 N. Washington St. last month. T-Swirl Crepe offers both sweet crepes with such ingredients as banana and chocolate, mango, raspberries and strawberries, and savory crepes such as the vegetarian lover, chicken teriyaki and T-Swirl BLT.
Both eateries are open 11 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
With his pho shop, Chen, 52, said he wanted to offer something aside from what he’s tasted at other local pho spots. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup that traditionally features beef as its primary protein.
“I tried all the DMV pho and they’re all the same, everywhere you go, they’re all the same,” said Chen, a Silver Spring native. “So I would like to try some unique and more modern-style pho. So we don’t have nothing like XO Pho in [the] DMV area.”
XO Modern Pho & Grill offers options such as the PHO XO Long Horn, which features prime beef ribs; Pho XO Live Lobster Raptor T Rex, which features lobster, shrimp balls and prime beef ribs; and Pho Fried Tofu, which features broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and fried tofu.
In addition to the modern pho, the menu also includes Vietnamese style rolls, spring rolls, shrimp tempura, rice bowls, fried rice and egg noodles.
Aside from his food, Chen said there are other aspects that set him apart from other pho restaurants.
“If you go to [a pho restaurant], the bowl and spoon, they’re all the same. So I wanted to be different from everybody,” he said. “I want to be different, my spoon different, my bowl different. I just want customers to come in here [and] feel like ‘mmm, that pho is different from everybody [else’s] pho.’ ”
The bowls have three different sizes, including a larger sharable-size bowl for pho offerings such as the PHO XO Longhorn. The large-size bowl is a traditional large pho bowl and the small size is a deep bowl with a small circumference. The spoons are large and round, unlike the smaller spoons that might be found at a traditional pho restaurant.
Chen said he’s been pleased by the customer response to XO Modern Pho & Grill and said his dream is to expand outside of his crepe franchise.
“I just greatly appreciate if a local customer [is] coming to check it out and they’re happy with my food. I’m very, very happy about it,” he said.