A new, chic Vietnamese restaurant has opened in Southwest Portland, and it’s full of surprises. Anchoi, owned by mother-daughter team Cathy Pham and Therese Tran, started serving steaming bowls of pho and tender shaking beef earlier this summer, with a cocktail menu designed by Tiki master Blair Reynolds (Hale Pele). Pham has worked in Vietnamese restaurants around Portland for years, helping her sister Lauren Huynh open Fish Sauce in 2012.
The menu includes the expected classics, including pho and banh mi, as well as a few specialties like vegan pho and turmeric noodle soup (mi quang). Tran wanted to serve traditional Vietnamese dishes with better cuts of meat than other restaurants in town — instead of using eye round for her pho or cheaper steak cuts for her bo luc lac, she chose teres major (shoulder tender) and filet mignon, respectively. On the cocktail menu, Reynolds played off Southeast Asian ingredients like lychee and tamarind, from a gingery lychee spritz to the Tom Hao with lemon, lime, tamarind, and rum. His daiquiri even uses Indonesian arak, a sugarcane-distilled spirit similar to a white rum.
The azure interior comes from the folks at Shelter, who designed restaurants like The Crown and Hem 23. “Design-wise, I wanted something clean, modern, for the younger crowd — we’re right across from PSU, after all,” Tran says. After a trip to Hem 23, she decided to look up the designer, asking for a look that was distinct from that restaurant with a similar liveliness and polished quality. The restaurant is filled with varying shades of blue, with a minimalist bar and a leafy accent wall.
Tran, a chiropractor, decided to help her mother open the restaurant as a family side-project. “She’s always loved to cook, and this is something she’s always wanted to do,” Tran says. “We opened a restaurant just for fun. I have my other business, my mom was retired — for us, it’s about having good food.”