If you’re tired of ferreting out the ingredients in restaurant food and dismayed to learn of the hidden calories in many menu choices, you might be interested in trying a Pho Hoa restaurant. The ingredients appear in picture and text form on the menu, and you choose the meats and vegetables you want included in the main-course soup and noodle dishes.
Pho Hoa – pronounced fuh hwa – is a small chain of Vietnamese restaurants in 10 states, four Canadian provinces and in about two dozen sites in Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. The restaurant prides itself on serving only fresh ingredients and never using a microwave, according to the "Dallas Morning News." Bowls of soup come with platters of uncooked vegetables on the side, and you select the thinly sliced raw meat that cooks on its way to the table in your broth. The nutritional content of a meal at Pho Hoa relies almost entirely on you.
Beef Noodle Soup
The Pho Hoa house specialty is beef noodle soup. Each large bowl contains rice, noodles and broth. A serving of noodles contains just under 200 calories and a cup of broth fewer than 50 calories; the combination would net you 45 g of carbohydrates and 12 g of protein, according to MyFitnessPal. The soup is served with your choice of thinly sliced meat. You can choose to add a couple of ounces of eye round steak – 80 calories and 11 g of protein – or higher-calorie choices such as meatballs, brisket and tripe. Each bowl comes with a selection of fresh vegetables, including bean sprouts, scallions, sweet basil, chili and coriander. You can also add freshly squeezed lemon to your soup.
The vermicelli bowls at Pho Hoa provide a mix of carbohydrates and protein with little fat. A cup of vermicelli noodles contains about 200 calories, 45 g of carbohydrates, 4 g of protein and 0.5 g of fat. If you choose the Bun Tom Thit Nuong, you’ll be adding protein in the form of prawns and pork. The Bun Ga Nuong is a leaner choice because it contains grilled chicken. A fattier selection would be the Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio, which contains a fried roll and grilled pork.
The vegetables in the beef noodle soup and vermicelli bowls provide low-calorie nutrition. Bean sprouts contain 30 calories per cup and provide vitamins A, B, C and E as well as potassium, iron and calcium, according to the "Korean Herald." Onions, studied for their potential to promote heart health and lower cholesterol, contain fiber, magnesium, folic acid, calcium, chromium, iron and vitamins A, B and C, according to the Juicing for Health website. Basil may relieve constipation or diarrhea and limited studies demonstrate its potential for treating type 2 diabetes. Chili peppers may speed your metabolism and increase satiety. And coriander, a source of antioxidants called flavonoids, may help lower cholesterol, balance your blood sugar and protect against urinary tract infections.
Your low-calorie, nutritious meal at Pho Hoa could take a waistline-bulging turn depending on your choice of beverage. You could stick with water or espresso without adding calories to your meal. or choose a soybean milk that includes 7 g of protein for its 150 calories. But the calorie count could quickly add up if you try one of the tapioca pearl smoothies. The tapioca pearls themselves contain up to 200 calories per serving, and 70 percent of those calories come from fat, according to Nutsonline.