Southeast restaurant, Pho Buddy, brings fresh tastes, new trends to Colorado Springs
By MATTHEW SCHNIPER
Special to the Express
Words I never thought I’d be typing out: “Cheese tea could be the new bubble tea.”
Actually, they’re not my words. A writer for Eater named Esther Tseng wrote them as a headline in a fall 2018 article about how Asia has inspired a trend that’s slowly sweeping the U.S., in which teas are capped with a thick layer of salt-spiked cream cheese and milk. Search the web and you’ll find many more articles from cities around the country.
I had heard nothing of the matter until visiting the newly opened Pho Buddy near the Sand Creek Library — which to the best of my knowledge is the first to introduce the drink in the Springs. At the top of their drink menu, I immediately noticed five variations of “salted cheese” drinks, which initially made me think of something like Middle Eastern doogh, a salted yogurt concoction. In fact, it’s nothing like that, and more akin to a creamy foam layer atop your average latte, but thicker with a notable cream cheese finish, and both salty and sweet from added sugar. Instead of stirring the “cheese” in, it’s advisable to either drink from the top and allow the tea to diminish the cream with each sip, or plunge a wide boba straw between the two layers as you drink.
In my oolong tea, for $3.45, it reminds me a bit of a common Thai iced tea due to the thick creamy sweetness and the quickly addictive quality — like, you could easily punish a couple or a few of these if you aren’t watching your sugar consumption.
They’ve done a great job enlivening the former Mi Viejo San Juan and Julie’s Bar and Grill space. Pendant lights guide the eye back to a smoothie bar lit with some neon, behind a service counter (at which you pay at meal’s end), and wooden half-walls split the large dining room into a couple sections. Three large TVs loop Vietnamese travel and cooking shows.From the many standard pho options, we select a seafood rendition that sports a fine, shrimp-forward broth with a mild herb finish, and a generous amount of prawns, squid and whitefish hunks amidst the vermicelli noodles. It rates perfectly average to elsewhere in town, easily providing two meals for $8.95.
Another similarly priced but more outstanding soup, bun bo hue, spicy beef soup, hosts thicker rice noodles, meatball slivers, brisket slices, tendon pieces, onions and chile oil that stains it a dark crimson. Like pho, it arrives with a side plate of optional lime, bean sprouts and basil.
Editor’s note: This review originally ran in the April 24 edition of our sister publication, the Colorado Springs Independent. Matthew Schniper is the Indy editor; follow him on Twitter at @MatthewSchniper or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHECK IT OUT
Who: Pho Buddy
When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: 1861 S. Academy Blvd.