Grilled-chicken fried rice (Photo by Kathy Tran)

Grilled-chicken fried rice (Photo by Kathy Tran)

Finding the right flavor

Consistency is key at Pho Hanabi, so Eric Ton spent years searching for a practical and flavor-filled recipe.

He constructed a kitchen in his backyard reminiscent of a mad scientist’s laboratory to experiment with seasoning and cooking methods. He traveled to 10 states across the country to sample the Vietnamese noodle soup, too.

“The culture of eating pho is so different from not just state-to-state but city-to-city,” he says.

Ton — a consultant who launched the Northwest Highway restaurant — embraces the unconventional. The engineer and culinary enthusiast is not a restauranteur, but he has a business-savvy mind and years of pho-making experience that he hopes will make the eatery a permanent neighborhood fixture.

Beef meatball noodle soup (Photo by Kathy Tran)

Beef meatball noodle soup (Photo by Kathy Tran)

His process is under wraps, but the soup contains an array of spices, including cinnamon and cardamom, and is served with bean sprouts and basil leaves.

“As a science and engineering guy, it does not make sense if we do it the traditional way,” Ton says. “It takes longer, and it doesn’t bring out all the flavors.”

Besides the quality of the menu items, Ton is focused on providing his staff with a positive experience, which he believes will translate into customer service.

“The most exciting part is my employees,” he says. “They are young and energetic and willing to learn. I feel like I can share more with them than making pho or working at a restaurant.”

Did you know: In Vietnam, pho typically is served for breakfast.

Pho Hanabi
Ambiance: casual eatery
Price Range: $4-$12
Hours: 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Sunday-Saturday
10675 Northwest Highway, suite 1635