The closing of Pho Kim had us freaking the pho out! Our resident foodie and founder, Brenda Geiger, was a longtime fan of the Vietnamese family restaurant. Together, we decided to squash our pho mo and search the city for an acceptable replacement. In the end, we found five restaurants that deliver pho in Kansas City expertly.
1. Vietnam Cafe: The Internet’s Favorite Phở
522 Campbell Street, Kansas City
Brenda’s top pick is KC’s beloved Vietnam Cafe. With huge portions and fair prices, Vietnam Cafe does pho well.
Located in the Columbus Park neighborhood, their pho soups are served with rice noodles, fresh bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, jalapenos, and lime with a peppery finish.
Vietnam Cafe has so many pho flavors it can be a bit confusing. For example, what’s the difference between Pho Bo and Pho Bo Kho? We spoke to the team behind the cuisine to shed light on the matter and learned that Pho Bo Kho is a beef stew.
Pho Bo Kho is sweeter and darker than Pho Bo. Pho Bo Kho is soul-warming and made with proper stew veggies. That said, our vote goes to Pho Bo. It’s Vietnam Cafe’s top-selling dish and a more traditional version of pho.
Pho Options: Pho Bo (thinly sliced eye of round beef), Pho Bo Vien (beef meatballs), Pho Ga (shredded chicken), Pho Dac Biet (thinly sliced eye of round beef, beef meatballs, brisket, rough flank, and tripe), Pho Do Bien (shrimp, mussels, squid, and imitation crabmeat), and Pho Bo Kho (beef stew).
Suggested Order Pho Bo and Vietnamese Coffee
Tip: Vietnam Cafe gets busy. If you don’t mind eating at home, call ahead and order to-go.
2. Bun Mee Phan: A Family Recipe
4011 N Oak Traffic Way, Kansas City
My top pick for pho in Kansas City, located in the Northland area, is Bun Mee Phan. It’s pho real. The building is small and unassuming, the food authentic and fresh. Plus, I’m a sucker for family recipes.
The Kaylee Nguyen family opened Bun Mee Phan five years ago and have kept the menu focused on what they make best. Their signature dish is the Banh Mi, a Vietnamese-style sandwich served with homemade butter and various meats ranging from lemongrass chicken to tilapia to caramelized pork belly.
Their pho is made in-house using a family recipe. The catch? They only have one flavor: Beef.
The beef pho is broth-based made with rice noodles, meatballs, steak, and brisket. It’s served with lime, jalapenos, basil, and cilantro, as well as Sriracha and hoisin sauce, in case you want to kick things up.
Pho Options: Beef
Suggested Order Beef pho, spring rolls, and lychee bubble tea.
Tip: The spring rolls are served fresh and made to order
3. Noodle Bar: Pho for Vegetarians
10940 F Parallel Parkway, Kansas City
Alright, noodle heads, The Noodle Bar is your spot. They serve pho, ramen, pad thai, and more.
The owner, Vu Nguyen, is a pho enthusiast. In his restaurant, pho is prepared with meat, carrots, the ends of cilantro, onion, and ginger grilled over a flame. The mixture cooks for eight hours to enhance flavor and allow the marrow in the bones to dissolve into the water. When the soup is almost finished, they add their specialty whole spice blend. A mixture of anise, fennel, and coriander seeds, as well as cinnamon, clove, and cardamom.
The team at Noodle Bar repeats this process daily so that customers are always served the freshest pho possible. If bone broth isn’t your thing, Vu also has a vegan stock. No matter which stock you pick, he recommends adding Sriracha and hoisin sauce.
Pho Options: Beef brisket, chicken, combo, meatballs, rare eye round steak, veggie, and kid’s pho. You can customize the base by selecting regular, spicy, chicken, or vegan.
Suggested Order Pho chicken
Tip: Currently, the Noodle Bar is functioning as a to-go-only restaurant. With TOGO, Vu recommends reheating the broth and all the fixings together. In his words, “pho tastes good when it is very hot.”
4. iPho Tower: Pho and a Full Bar
3623 Broadway Blvd, Kansas City
The name iPho Tower has me dreaming of French food and croissants, but the Vietnamese-French bistro focuses more on their Vietnamese heritage with a side of sports bar.
iPho Tower is sister to the restaurant formally known as Pho Hoa (Independence Ave). While Pho Hoa is no more, its influence can be tasted in Tower’s flavors and noted in its generous portions.
If you want to branch out from Pho, they also serve other Vietnamese dishes, including Banh Mi, and Vermicelli (Vietnamese Noodles). If you are looking for inspired French fusion, the menu includes a savory Vietnamese Crepe.
Pho Options: Meatball, Chicken, Brisket, Tendon, Combo, and Tripe. They also have Seafood Pho, a blend of shrimp, fish, imitation crab, and veggies. It’s served in a spicy and sour broth. If you are looking for a vegan option, iPho also has an optional veggie broth.
Suggested Order Have you ever had seafood pho with a spicy base and a Bloody Mary? It may just be KC’s number one hangover cure. Also, try the spring rolls with peanut sauce.
Not a Tip: I don’t eat pork, but the fried pork buns look like Heaven. Can someone please eat them and report back in the comments below? Thanks.
5. Ramen: An Alternative to Pho in Kansas City
While we looked into several more places in KC, the four above were the best of the best. That said, I think we can all agree that there are times when only a dark and flavorful ramen will do. Also, ramen is a cultural icon and a valid pho alternative.
If you want ramen, let us point you to Columbus Park Ramen Shop.
Run by the brains behind Happy Gillis, Columbus Park is currently functioning as a carry-out-only location, with plans to re-open soon. Their ramen is pho-nominal, and we can’t wait for them to re-open their indoor dining space.
Also, check out Sura Noodle Bar, a pop-up located inside Parlor that’s serving Korean-style noodles, including homemade “ramyun.” They have a pork-based ramyun as well as a veggie option made with a homemade mushroom broth.
A Map to Pho in Kansas City
Two questions for you, KC. First, did I miss any pho puns? Second, where is your favorite spot for pho in Kansas City?
Does your business have killer pho? Let us know.