Find it: 1701 S.E. Delaware Drive, Ankeny
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
We tried: The meatball pho, $7.25. The restaurant offers a full menu of pho choices, including beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian. We tried the meatball version, made with small, fatty meatballs in beef broth. We layered in more flavors with whole, fresh basil leaves that wilted in the hot broth, a squeeze of lime juice and a handful of crunchy sprouts. The result was a simple but flavorful soup with a bit of meat, fresh herbs and crunch in every bite.
TNT Vietnamese Restaurant
Find it: 3452 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway
Hours: 10:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday; closed Wednesday
We tried: The rare beef pho, $6.63. The strip mall location of this Vietnamese restaurant is casual, but not a dive. If you stop in during peak hours, expect a full restaurant, and most diners are ordering pho. We tried the beef pho (offered both rare and well done), and our rare meat was tender and flavorful. The broth was sinus-clearing, with lots of pepper, yet the whole dish was still mild. A shot of hoisin hot sauce added the kick it needed.
Find it: 1945 N.W. 86th St., Clive
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
We tried: The seafood pho, $8.45. From a short list of choices that includes beef, chicken and meatball, we settled on the seafood pho to cure our shrimp craving. The hot soup is meant for fans of seafood, with several chunks of imitation crab, tofu and a handful of shrimp tossed into the hot broth. Since the seafood had its own strong and unique flavors, we simply added a squeeze of lemon and a few sprouts to dress it up.
Find it: 1511 High Street
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday
We tried: The chicken pho, $7.42. The Sherman Hill Vietnamese restaurant attracts a busy crowd for delicious vegetarian, Asian and Vietnamese offerings Tuesday through Saturday. A big bowl of pho is a common site at A Dong, and for good reason. We tried the chicken pho, bracing ourselves for dried up bits of poultry in a hot broth. Happily, the soup was possibly the most flavorful of the bunch. The chicken was moist and very tender. We added basil and scallions, with a squeeze of lime for delicious layers of flavor.