Blog Post by Ha Dinh
Perhaps you know that Le’s Pho history dates back to 1989 in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Norwood, Ohio. Ms. Lệ served Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine her restaurant, Dragon Le, for 7 years in Norwood’s Surrey Square. Dragon Le was not only a restaurant but also an Asian grocery shop.
“My mom cooked phở, bún bò Huế (spicy beef noodle) but customers preferred Chinese food more,” according to Ms. Lệ’s daughter, Ms. Huyền. “Back in the time, Vietnamese cuisine wasn’t very popular.”
In 1996, the family restaurant moved to Main Street in downtown Cincinnati and evolved into Main Street Walk. Ms. Lệ also opened a flower shop inside the restaurant which served Chinese food and phở. Vietnamese cuisine still didn’t garner much Cincinnati attention. Main Street Walk became Le’s café, in 2003, near Cincinnati’s downtown Public Library. This time, chef Lệ cooked bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwiches) and Chinese food.
Finally, in 2011, Le’s Pho and Sandwiches opened, serving Asian appetizers, phở, bún, bánh mì, rice, and Vietnamese coffee. Around this time, Vietnamese cuisine started to gain more popularity, especially after Pho Lang Thang opened in Findlay Market. American, Chinese, Korean, Indian and many other nationalities began welcoming Viet food, and it was not uncommon to see many in the Cincinnati region choose phở for brunch, lunch or dinner.
When Ms. Lệ was in Vietnam, before marriage, she took care of her younger siblings and cooked for the whole family. After coming to the US, she always wanted to share her recipes of Viet cuisine but couldn’t. Now that Le’s Pho and Sandwiches has grown to become a popular Vietnamese restaurant, Ms. Huyen says her mother is “happy now that she finally reached her goal.”
When you visit Le’s Pho, you will likely be greeted by Huyen at the counter or as she serves food from the kitchen. Despite her Bachelor degree in Biology, and acceptance to the University of Virginia law school, her passion grew in the restaurant industry. Huyen is helping to manage the family restaurant, allowing her parents to enjoy the legacy they’ve built.
What makes Le’s Pho stand out is not only fast service and a great family love, but also its Saturday secret menu showcasing Ms. Lệ’s great Vietnamese recipes. It’s called the “secret menu” because it is only made available to those who ask.
Asian Food Fest 2017 will feature “A Walk of Le” with these dishes:
- Pork egg rolls (chả giò thịt her) – 2 for $3
- Crab Rangoon – 5 for $3
- Chicken on a Stick with Ms. Lệ’s special sauce (thịt gà xiên nướng) – $4/each
- Iced Café Boba (cà phê trân châu) – $3/each
Le’s Pho’s Asian Food Fest menu includes both Vietnamese and Chinese food, with a touch of creativity for the boba coffee, and of course, is served to you with great love from Le’s family.
Visit Le’s Pho and many more Asian food vendors at Asian Food Fest in Washington Park on May 13-14, 2017! Stay tuned for more news and posts from the AFF blog.