Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Pho So 1

51 Memorial Parkway, Randolph, MA 02368
(781) 961-6500 Find location!
--- Winner, Best Vietnamese Restaurant in Boston Area, 2016 (also 2015 and 2012) ---

Photo of Pho So 1, in Randolph, MA It is no secret that some of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the Boston area can be found in the Fields Corner section of Dorchester. Places such as Pho 2000 on Adams Street and Pho Hoa and Pho Le on Dorchester Avenue are just three such places that are worth checking out in and around this densely-populated area. In the case of this last spot (which we have reviewed, by the way), we have discovered that it is not actually connected to a place in Randolph with the same name, but for those who live in the suburbs, this is a moot point as the quality of the food is every bit as good at Randolph's Pho So 1 and it has a slightly more attractive interior, plenty of free parking, and similar dishes that you might find at the aforementioned restaurants in Dorchester.

Pho So 1 in Randolph is located in a rather tired-looking shopping center just west of the center of town, and because the shopping center itself faces away from the two main roads that intersect near its eastern end (Routes 28 and 139), folks who drive through Randolph on their way to somewhere else will probably never even know about it. And because it resides in a shopping center, the restaurant is a bit limited in what it can do with its space (which is basically a rectangular room, like so many other dining spots in shopping centers), but they have made the most of it, with recessed lights that are not overly harsh, earthy-colored walls with sconces, tables that are faced fairly well apart, a noise level that is usually tolerable, and mirrors along the left wall that help make the restaurant feel larger than it actually is.

Like some of the other dining spots that are found in Dorchester, Pho So 1 seems to focus on noodle soups (which is called "pho") and vermicelli (thin rice noodles). And both options are wonderful, with the pho featuring a bright-tasting broth with noodles, basil, bean sprouts, various veggies, and meat/seafood options; the brisket and flank pho is out of this world, as are the rare eye round, the meatball pho, and the seafood pho, but the best may be the pho ga (chicken pho), which is possibly one of the best soup dishes in the entire region. Vermicelli options include vermicelli bowls and steamed vermicelli that can be ordered with beef, chicken, and seafood, with the hearty grilled meat going particularly well with the delicate noodles. Among the appetizers here are fresh-tasting steamed spring rolls that come with mint, lettuce, vermicelli, pork, and shrimp, as well as Vietnamese salads with shredded vegetables, scallion pancakes, and shrimp with fish sauce. Vegetarian options are also available at Pho So 1, with the emphasis being on dishes with tofu, and there are also some stir-fry dishes and meat entrees, with lemongrass playing a prominent role in both. Among beverages, the always-popular "bubble tea" smoothies are offered, with flavors including lychee, jackfruit, soursop, and green tea.

While Dorchester is typically seen as the place to go for Vietnamese food in the Boston area, there are a number of Vietnamese dining spots scattered throughout the rest of the region, including Pho So 1 in Randolph. And as mentioned earlier, what makes this spot so nice is the fact that you get all the greatness of the Fields Corner restaurants without the traffic and parking issues, and the atmosphere is fairly pleasant, which can't be said for some of its competitors in the city. It may not be very well known, but Pho So 1 in Randolph is one place that lovers of Southeast Asian food will not want to miss.