Pho Ngon fails health inspection

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A Portland restaurant serving pho, the traditional Vietnamese soup, has flunked again.

Last October, Pho Ngon on SE 82nd failed with a score of 59. This year, the health inspector gave the restaurant a 61. Below 70 is failing.

The inspector wrote up a problem with the hot water.

"None of the hot water in the establishment is over 80 (degrees)," the inspector said. That's not hot enough to keep your food and dishes safe, according to the health department.

The inspector found a sleeping bag on the floor in the hallway beyond the restrooms. Sleeping quarters have to be in a separate room at a restaurant, with a door that closes.

Food in the restaurant was not properly dated, according to the report. Workers are required to mark dates on food so that they will know when it is past due.

"Most cooked food in walk-in was not dated," the inspector said. Undated products that had been in the walk-in refrigerator for more than 24 hours had to be thrown out.

The report also noted problems with hand washing. It said a worker changed the bag in the garbage pail without washing his hands after, and the cook only rinsed his hands at the sink, instead of using soap and water.

Sometimes inspectors can find signs of a pattern. Dirty equipment handles can show that workers are not washing their hands regularly. In this case, the inspector wrote "Handles of equipment and restroom doors soiled, walls and light plates, doors in and out of restrooms soiled."

These and other violations added up the failing grade.

We contacted the restaurant to find out if the problems had been fixed. The manager did not return our calls.

The inspector returned for the mandatory post-failing inspection, and found a few other violations. For example, the report says there was cooked meat in the temperature danger zone, and signs that the cook was not following proper cooling techniques to keep you safe. But the post-failing score added up to 90, as passing grade.