Pho 99 – Wade Hampton Greenville SC


This is not a positive review. I don’t have many of these but every now and then I go somewhere and I am disappointed. I was not going to review them, but then I decided that I need to do my duty to my foodie friends who might see this place and think it is a hidden treasure dive waiting to be discovered.

This restaurant served Thai food. I went with my uncle just to check it out. When we entered, I should have known that we were not going to have a good experience because I felt a negative vibe. The server was at the cash register but did not greet us at all. He almost seemed as if he was annoyed that we dared to enter his restaurant. I decided that I could be misunderstanding his facial expressions and tone of voice because cultural differences. It should have been a red flag that there were no other customers in the restaurant, but I decided it was the time of day (that time period between lunch but not yet dinner).

Since he made no effort to seat us, I went to the counter and asked if we could sit at any table and if we could have menus. In a seemingly reluctant manner, he nodded his head and gave me menus.

The pictures in the menu do not match the food. I was surprised that they had fried spring rolls, but the picture looked tasty so I ordered it. I asked if there were any peanuts in the dipping sauce that accompanied the rolls, and the guy said "No" with a frown on his face (I do not know if the frown was because he did not understand what I said OR if it was because he did not want to me ask questions). Knowing about peanuts in food is important to me because I have a peanut allergy. I do not want to have an allergic reaction just because I was too polite to ask what are the ingredients in a food dish.

My uncle wanted a plain vegetable soup or simple broth. The waiter said that they did not have that. At this point, I was frowning because I could not believe it. I thought maybe the waiter did not understand our request or if he was being intentionally difficult in order to dissuade us from eating there. He said the only soup they had was meatball soup. If my uncle wanted soup that is what he had to order. Okay. Fine.

We got our orders. As you can see from the picture, I did not have fried spring rolls. Although not pictured, the dipping sauce did have peanuts. And the "meatball soup" had tough, un-chewable, meat of indeterminable origin. I ate the spring rolls since I ordered them. I felt like it was partially my fault for assuming that the picture was of the actual food. Plus I did not want to get into an argument with the server who I decided at this point probably did not speak enough English to understand my complaint. On the other hand, my uncle had difficulties choking down his soup. The meat’s flavor was just as bad as its texture. And the broth had so much of the meat’s flavor it was inedible also.

Not even finishing the food, I went to the register to pay for our food so we could leave. My uncle originally said he would pay for it, but I told him that I would take care of the bill since it was my fault we were there. As we were leaving, the waiter had a smile on his face. At this point, I was a little suspicious of our whole experience. Did he play a prank on us? Was it give-extremely-bad-service-to-the-English-speaking-people day?

I like good food and decent customer service. I understand that "decent customer service" may vary from country to country. But I have been to other Thai restaurants and the service was at the very least, polite. At Pho 99, I did not even think that they were being polite. I felt as if I was an unwelcome intruder into their restaurant. My experience there was horrible and, as much as it depends upon me, I am never going back.

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5 thoughts on “Pho 99 – Wade Hampton Greenville SC

  1. Wow. Well first of all the restaurant is Vietnamese, not Thai. Secondly it is a seat yourself restaurant. Thirdly Pho restaurants have set menus that the cooks memorize by number. Fourthly, what you received were indeed fresh spring rolls which in every Vietnamese restaurant on earth come with peanut dipping sauce. The eggrolls come with a sweet ginger and honey based sauce. Always. The essence of enjoying Pho is just that, consuming a nurishing, steaming bowl of broth and noodles with whatever protein you desire. Had you read the descriptions accompanying the pictures you may have known that. Vegetarian options are definitely available. As far as pho goes this restaurant is as authentic as it gets in terms of service and food. You are meant to seat yourself, order, eat, and leave. If you want your ego stroked don’t eat pho. Oh, and at least know what the heck kind of food you are consuming and the the philosophy and culture of the eating ritual that is pho before you write a review.

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    • Forgive my faux pas thinking this was Thai food. I have nothing against Pho, but my first experience with it at Pho 99 was not enjoyable. In this case, my review was of the restaurant and not of pho in general. The poor service I can excuse, IF the food makes up for it.

      My biggest contention was that the pictures did not match the menu. The descriptions did not help either. I asked questions but obviously the server either did not understand or did not take my questions seriously. Maybe he did not understand it when I said that I have a peanut allergy. He might take that for a joke, but it is serious life or death stuff for me.

      My point is that this restaurant is not welcoming to people who like to try different types of food. I am not looking to have “my ego stroked”, but there is something universal about having a welcoming attitude. If they are working in the food industry in the US, they have to understand that is part of doing business. It is cultural to at least be polite to your customers. I have not been to Vietnam, so I am not sure if being rude to customers is their way of showing hospitality, but I doubt it.

      I also doubt that this restaurant is indicative of what to expect from Vietnamese food. And judging from the reviews on Yelp and Urbanspoon, there are a lot people who agree with me.

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