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Cheap Eat: Pho at Pho 96

It was at least a 40-minute, mid-day haul from my office downtown—through the never-ending I-75 construction—but I can assure you it was worth it. Packed full of World Cup fans (mostly Asian) munching away on banh mi sandwiches, slurping up giant bowls of beefy broth and rice noodle soups, and sipping colorful bubble teas and smoothies, you’d never guess Pho 96 was a suburban Ohio restaurant. The rice paper-wrapped, shrimp and pork-filled spring rolls ($3.96) were textbook perfect in their freshness and the peanut sauce was not overly sweet. But it’s the pho (of which there are 12 varieties) that’s the real star. I loved the rare eye of round version ($8.46) with its rich umami broth, huge handfuls of rice vermicelli, and just barely cooked beef. It arrived piping hot and with a heaping plate of basil, mung bean sprouts, lime wedges, and jalapeños. My only wish was that this gem was closer to home, cause good pho is hard to find.

Pho 96, 7844 Kingland Dr., West Chester, (513) 779-8448, pho96.com