It was an unusually cold night in Charleston – cold enough to bust out a heavy coat, which doesn’t really happen too often around here. My sister-in-law and her husband were in town from Dallas, so we got a sitter and planned a much-deserved date night. We went to Cane Rhum Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail – BTW, they have a super tasty and STRONG dark and stormy – then headed over to CO Charleston to warm up and fill our bellies with some delicious food.
CO is located on Lower King Street in historic downtown Charleston and there are 6 locations throughout the southeast, with the Charleston restaurant being the first location. The cuisine puts a modern spin on traditional Southeast Asian dishes – like bahn mi, sushi, and pho.
CO isn’t big. And they don’t take reservations – so it’s always packed during peak hours which means you need to plan ahead (but well worth the wait if there is a wait).
The ground floor mainly consists of the bar and kitchen, and the second floor is the main dining area. Exposed brick and wrought iron give the space a cool industrial feel.
My husband and I lived in the San Fransisco Bay Area for 10 years before moving to Charleston (with a run in Philly for 8 years in between). Needless to say, we got extremely spoiled with easy access to delicious, authentic Asian food – it’s everywhere in San Fransisco and the surrounding areas.
When I lived there, I not only did I fall in love with my husband….I also fell in love with pho. A Vietnamese noodle soup that will blow your mind. Since leaving Bay Area in 2008, I haven’t found a bowl of pho that comes even close to the pho I had in California…until now.
CO’s pho ga – shredded chicken noodle soup with herbs and vermicelli noodles – is amazeballs. The broth was perfectly salty and the chicken was tender. So delicious. What I really love about pho is being able to add the veggies you like to your soup. They’re always served on the side. I like to add the bean sprouts, cilantro, sriracha, hoisin sauce, and a squeeze of lime. It takes the soup to an entirely new level.
Mike never had pho in his life until now – which blew my mind a bit considering where we lived for so long – and now he’s hooked. He had the pho dac biet, which is rare beef, meatballs, shredded chicken, and herbs in a beef broth.
My sister-in-law had the curry laksa, which is shrimp, shredded chicken, bun rice noodles, and veggies, served in a spicy coconut broth. Here’s what she said about her experience at CO, “Let me put it this way…it’s been a month since I visited CO and I still crave it. It was amazing! The perfect combination of flavors. I need to go there again when I’m back in town.”
Their menu has something for everyone – they have a kids menu too. It’s broken down into 6 main categories:
- Small dishes
- Bahn mi
- Broth noodles
- Wok noodles and rice dishes
And, they have dessert too. Oh yeah!
Let’s not forget the service, which can make or break a meal in my humble opinion. We sat at the bar, and I’m a firm believer that you always get great service if you sit at the bar. I mean, you’re right there in front of their face. Our bartender was nice, attentive (always checked in to see if we needed another beverage right before we would ask…can I have another glass of wine), and was knowledgeable about all of the dishes on the menu. Five stars.
CO Charleston Is A Winner Winner Pho Ga Dinner!
So if you’re visiting Charleston – or if you live in Charleston and find yourself on Lower King – be sure to stop by CO. You won’t be disappointed!
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