Vietnamese Cuisine With a Twist

By Nami Nagaoka

MINERAL RIDGE, Ohio — After a year as owner of Pho Viez, Joel Johnson has added new flavor to the Vietnamese restaurant.

For 23 years, Johnson has worked in the culinary industry, learning styles and techniques from 13 different restaurants, he said. Through those years, he developed an affinity for Asian cuisine.

“I’ve always loved cooking Asian food,” he said. “Asian food is very healthy. I got recipes from different people. I like to eat, so I know the flavors a lot.”

He started going to Pho Viez as a customer and became friends with the owner, who asked Johnson if he wanted to take over the restaurant. She made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, he said, and he took it over Jan. 2, 2018.

“I loved her food so much,” he said. “I always loved pho. I’ve been eating pho for almost 20 years now. It’s just one of those things that it is very addicting.”

As owner, Johnson has added a twist to the restaurant, introducing some Korean dishes, such as bibimbap and kimchi, as well as ramen to the menu. He maintained much of the original menu, which features Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisine. He wanted Pho Viez to feature multiple Asian cuisines in one restaurant to make it more than just an “average Asian take-out restaurant,” he said.

“The top kind of picks of a lot of Asian cuisines,” he said. “Not everybody gets the whole flavor of what traditional [Asian cuisine] is versus American Asian.”

For his pho, Johnson steeps beef bones for eight hours, “so it’s a very rich broth,” he said. Brave diners can take him up on his Big Pho-King challenge, in which they have 45 minutes to eat a large bowl of pho, including two pounds of noodles, two-and-a-half pounds of meat, three quarts of broth and the side plate of condiments.

Winners get $100 and a T-shirt, but those who can’t finish have to pay $50 and put their picture on the Pho-King Losers Wall of Shame. Of the three challengers thus far, no one has completed it, he said.

Pho Viez is located at 3971 East Main St. and is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.