NEW IN TOWN: Pho Asian Grill

We had to fight through the traffic on US 36 west of I-465, but once we got to Avon, we were impressed that there are a growing number of independent, international eateries, not just chain restaurants in strip malls. The newest player is actually a remake of the former Green Leaf Vietnamese restaurant, which is now called Pho Asian Grill (10240 East US Highway 36, 271-7999). True to its name, this cozy, shotgun eatery with seating for only around 30 people offers Vietnamese standards such as the iconic spiced soup pho. We tried one with rare beef that had a good depth of flavor and the usual accompaniments of sprouts, basil, mint, jalapenos, and lime. But the restaurant also offers a small selection of entrees that span Asia, such as Chinese stir-fries, Korean barbecued ribs, even the Japanese fritter tonkatsu. Spring rolls, both fried and fresh, came with flavorful dipping sauces, a peanut version and a rice vinegar dressing, and cream cheese rangoons seemed a bit more homemade than some, if without much (or any?) crab. “Shaken” beef was perhaps the hit of the evening, with surprisingly tender beef the menu suggested was filet in a rich soy-based gravy with a nice kick of chiles. Lemongrass chicken was a bit more timid but did have an aromatic undertone of ginger and garlic. We might not trade our favorite pan-Asian takeouts inside of I-465, but if we’ve got a reason to travel west of town, we know we can find some freshly made Asian favorites amid the franchises.