Vietnamese restaurant brings pho craze to town
DeeAnne Snyder, owner of the new Pho Good restaurant in Shawnee, has many unfond memories of her youth in war-torn South Vietnam.
Her parents, who ran a successful import-export business, feared their family would be persecuted by the Communists after the 1975 fall of Saigon. So they arranged for most of their 13 children to escape the abuse and famine that followed the Vietnam War for many in their country.
“I was one of the boat people,” Snyder said. “An older sister and I escaped on a little boat, about 20 feet long, with 29 people on it.”
Five of her other siblings died — Snyder never learned exactly how — from illness or their attempts to escape Vietnam. But after stops in Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, Snyder finally reached the United States 32 years ago as a 17-year-old, she said.
Now, she is rekindling some of her fonder childhood memories through a restaurant that serves some of the Vietnamese dishes Snyder once enjoyed with her family. And, as she has done for the past several years, she is continuing the family entrepreneurial tradition established by her mother and father.
“I am a businesswoman. Period,” Snyder said. “Only my first few years in the U.S. did I work for somebody else.”
After that, she ran a series of beauty and tanning salons in the Houston area, where she met her husband, an American engineer. And after he took a job in Kansas City, Mo., a year and a half ago, Snyder surveyed the area for new business opportunities and found something conspicuously lacking on the Kansas side: pho.
The focus of a culinary craze that has been sweeping inward from the coasts for years, pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with a beef bone and onion broth and served with a variety of meat and garnish selections.
At Pho Good, 10703 Shawnee Mission Parkway, the pho meat choices include sirloin and flank steak, brisket, chicken and seafood. Other accompaniments diners can add according to their tastes include bean sprouts, lime, jalapenos, basil and cilantro.
Snyder’s cousin, former Dallas restaurant owner Tam Nguyen, runs the kitchen and does the cooking. But in addition to running the front of the house, Snyder has gotten involved in the creation of some of Pho Good’s signature dishes. They include Cha Go, the Vietnamese name for Pho Good’s egg rolls, and Nem nuong Cuon, which are spring rolls containing crispy strips of grilled pork.
The restaurant also serves a variety of noodle and steam rice dishes, French sandwiches, real fruit bubble tea drinks, four flavors of Vietnamese ice cream, Vietnamese style coffee and other beverages.
Meals are served in a clean, spacious dining room (occupancy 148) in a location that Snyder selected because of its accessibility to Interstate 35 and the absence of other Vietnamese restaurants in the area.
“Shawnee is a really nice small town,” Snyder said. “And I saw the market here for a good, clean Vietnamese restaurant here.”
Since the restaurant opened June 1, it has attracted a growing number of regulars, including both longtime Vietnamese food fans and those who have been won over after coming in to sample the fare for the first time.
According to Snyder, the restaurant is benefiting from the quality of its ingredients, which include Angus beef, and their freshness. Pho Good doesn’t use MSG, a preservative in dishes at many Asian restaurants, she said.
“So everything’s fresh,” she said. “And it’s healthy — not oily, not too many calories.”
As more fitness-minded diners clue in to the health benefits of the food, Snyder expects lunch and dinner business to continue heating up. She is also expecting a bump when the weather starts to cool down. After all, a hot bowl of pho just isn’t quite as tempting when it’s 100 degrees outside.