Pho is the kind of dish that makes people love to argue over authenticity and tradition. But a world without weird pho is a world we don’t want to live in, which is what drew us to the new Lime Bar & Kitchen in Irving to try the restaurant's already famous lobster pho.
Almost everything about Lime Bar's lobster pho breaks the mold in one way or another. Thi Phung (better known by her DJ name, Thi Rex), one of Lime Bar's owners, was inspired by Buzzfeed clickbait and the kind of over-the-top dishes featured in viral videos. When Phung researched lobster pho and found the closest bowl in Las Vegas, she knew she wanted to bring it to Dallas.
“One of my favorite foods was shrimp pho," she says, "so ... you know?”
Oh, we know.
The broth is a modified version of Lime Bar's slow-cooked, richly flavored seafood broth, which simmers for about 14 hours before it hits the bowl. A lot of pho joints use a beef broth base (or a powdered pho mix) for seafood pho, and it overpowers the delicate nature of the lobster. Not so at Lime Bar.
For this pho's main attraction, huge, succulent lobsters are flown in daily from Maine and kept in a back-of-house tank. After it's cooked, the lobster tail is stripped of its meat (which goes into the soup), and its still-meaty body is added to the bowl, resting atop noodles, veggies and meat like a gigantic crustacean hot tub. The lobster stares back in anticipation of that first bite.
“Eat me,” it commands with an unyielding stare. “Don't be afraid.”
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While the crustacean-averse may find it a bit macabre, we found it nothing short of delicious. The broth is so delicate and light, with perfectly salty seafood brine, rich fatty oil and herbaceous flavors that had us draining the bowl after cracking the claws and helping ourselves to the succulent meat inside. The dish is served with the usual bean sprouts, hot peppers and basil leaves, and it clocks in at $35 per bowl.
Yes, that is likely $25 to $30 more than you spent on your last bowl of pho, but the high price doesn't seem to be driving people away. Lime Bar sells about 30 bowls of lobster pho every week, Thi says, a number she expects will rise as the winter chill sets in. This bowl of pho may set you back a tank of gas, but good God, it's worth it.
Normally, we shy away from exorbitantly priced dishes like this, but this pho lives up to the hype. It's not gold plated, diamond encrusted or served with a silver pho spoon. It's just a fun, delicious bowl of pho.
Lime Bar & Kitchen, 949 W. Royal Lane, Irving