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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at and a music writer for and the Portland Press Herald. She has been obsessed with - and inspired by - music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She bought her first Rolling Stones record at a flea market when she was in 7th grade and discovered David Bowie a year later. She's a HUGE fan of the local music scene and covers it along with national musical happenings in her "Face the Music" column and with artist interviews that appear in print in the Portland Press Herald and online at You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets. Aimsel is also the host of Music from 207 on 98.9 WCLZ and appears monthly on the News Center Maine TV show “207” to talk of course.

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Posted: December 22, 2017

Pho Hong’s soups will fill and warm you up

Written by: Aimsel Ponti

I chose a wintry-mix Tuesday to venture over to Pho Hong in Scarborough for a fantastic lunch of fresh shrimp spring rolls ($4.95) and pho ga (Vietnamese noodle soup with sliced white meat chicken, $9.95 for small, $10.95 for large). It was a scrape-your-windshield and hope-not-to-slip-on-the-ice kind of day with the temperature in the low 20s. I was cold to my core, and although it wasn’t the best idea to sit by the chilly window, it was a very good one to order the pho.

Pho is a thing among me and my co-workers. We’re perpetually on the hunt for new places to get it and are often comparing notes between them. I was happy to be the first to try out Pho Hong, which opened in February, and report back.

The exterior of Pho Hong restaurant on Route 1 in Scarborough
Photos by Aimsel Ponti

Let me get this part out of the way: It doesn’t look like much from the outside, as is often the case in a strip mall on a busy road. But didn’t we all learn long ago to never judge a book by its cover? The good news is that, once inside, it was bright and comfortable with standard tables and a couple of booths. I also spied a bar area off to the side with a few large TVs. I can absolutely see myself plunked down there during happy hour, from 3 to 6 p.m., when you’ll save a buck on all beer and wine and can get a margarita for $5 and a Mai Tai for $6.

But on this particular day, I was there for a lunch that would both warm and fill me up, and this visit did both. I arrived on the early side of the lunch hour, so for my entire visit I was there solo, although there were three or four takeout customers who came and went while I took advantage of Pho Hong’s free wifi and perused Twitter.

Fresh spring rolls with shrimp at Pho Hong restaurant on Route 1 in Scarborough

As with just about every lunch review I’ve written over the past six years or so, I arrived starving and in desperate need of immediate sustenance. Although the crab Rangoon called my name, I opted for the fresh spring rolls with shrimp. They arrived just a few minutes later with way more than enough soy dipping sauce, sprinkled with bits of peanuts. I gobbled up both rolls and would order them again. The wrappers were translucent and the rolls were bigger than others I’ve seen. Truly tasty.

It took a little longer than it maybe should have for my pho to arrive, and this really only bothered me because I was so cold by the window. My server offered to turn the heat up, or I could have simply moved to an interior table, but I was enjoying the natural light, plus I knew that I’d be plenty warm once I had a few spoonfuls of broth, and I was right.

Pho Ga (noodles with sliced white meat chicken) at Pho Hong restaurant on Route 1 in Scarborough

My pho ga was served with the typical side plate of bean sprouts and Thai basil, and I tossed a bit of both into my bowl and got to work. My first priority was to use my Chinese spoon and get some of that broth coursing through my body as soon as possible. There’s always a nanosecond of trepidation when trying a new pho place — a moment of “will I like the broth?” Well, guess what? I sure did. It was a bit on the salty side, which happens to be the way I like it. I had several spoonfuls of this before I went to work on the noodles and chicken, alternating using chopsticks and a fork. There’s only $1 difference between a small and large order of pho at Pho Hong, but since I had the spring rolls, I went with the small, which was more than enough food and likely would have been even without the appetizer. There was plenty of chicken and, more importantly, plenty of noodles, making this a hearty meal. I left there vowing to never eat again.

Route 1 in Scarborough isn’t a road I travel on the regular, but between Pho Hong and The Cheese Iron, I have good reason to make it a destination when the call of the hunger occurs. All told, Pho Hong has eight different types of pho, and I plan on trying all of them, except maybe the seafood one as I’m not so much of a squid fan. But pho with meatballs? Or eye-round steak? Or both? Say it with me: Yes, please!


WHERE: 285 Route 1, Scarborough. 219-8534, On Facebook
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: Less than five minutes for appetizers, about 15 minutes for pho

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