The Eats: Pho My Loi, 10439 16th Ave SW, 246-8500, White Center. Traditional Vietnamese.
The Deets: I really want to like a pho joint in White Center that advertises "vegetarian broth" via a neon sign in the window. Other places have dangled similar promises and fell short of flavor and least of all, grammar ("vegeterian"), and I've been waiting to encounter a spot that actually delivers a product worthy of its advertising.
Curiously, I've found the best places in town offering vegetarian pho don't boast much about the option. Tamarind Tree does a fine job, Moonlight Cafe serves up a mean vegan bowl while simultaneously identifying crab as "crap meat" on the carnivorous portion of the menu, and Pho My Loi, a sleepy spot nestled right next to Little Caesars on 16th, seemed to have all the criteria in place to do the same: A friendly host who offers tea while you wait for take out, all the necessary pho accoutrements (basil, hoisin, etc.), charming wall art with things like "Buddha Bless America" emblazoned over the American flag.
The Beets: Sadly, the small soup house failed to deliver a broth worth writing home about. For the sake of clarity, it's worth mentioning this was a take out meal, but I've had lovely vegetarian pho take out in the past, and there's no reason Pho My Loi shouldn't be held to similar standards.
Once home, I promptly emptied the stock into a saucepan and when it started to simmer, I added the noodles, veggies, and fried tofu and wafted the rising steam towards me for a sniff. I picked up no scent at all--the broth was watery and grey starting out with no detectable flecks of cinnamon or clove, garlic or ginger. I then added every condiment included in the take out sack and a generous dash of soy sauce to boot, and the soup improved slightly. But the clear, bland base took so much work to doctor up it was hardly worth the effort, and at the end of a long work day, you should expect the house to season items accordingly (and modify recipes, if necessary) to save you the trouble.
The Tweet: While I did enjoy reading the transcendent saga of Siddartha and may return for other vegetarian items, the veggie pho is officially off the table.