Monster Pho’s dining room, where robots bring your meals, has opened for sit-down service. Photo: Patricia Chang

Monster Pho’s new restaurant is packed with positivity and robots

Monster Pho, Tee Tran’s popular Vietnamese restaurant, has a fresh new dining room to entertain kids of all ages — there are robot waiters, arcade games and even a “monster pho(ne)” charging station. But though the restaurant opened in its new space last month, its delightful dining room has been shuttered until today, when Tran finally opened the restaurant for in-person patrons.

Tran spoke with Nosh’s Anna Mindess in January to detail Monster Pho’s move from its eight-year-old space on Broadway to a new location at 360 40th St. (near Manila Avenue) in Oakland, the spot last occupied by Bierhaus. But when the restaurant opened, COVID-19 case rates in Oakland were too high for Tran to offer in-person service, Tran said at the time.

At Monster Pho, robots lead you to your table and bring cold and room temperature dishes. Credit: Patricia Chang

Since the restaurant opened on Feb. 2 for takeout and delivery service of Tran’s menu of Saigon street food, “one out of every three customers” asked when he’d open up the inside, he told Nosh. “Everyone has been asking for sooo long,” Tran said.

Finally, Tran said, he felt case rates were low enough that he could safely open indoors. Sit-down service at Monster Pho kicked off today (March 2), and so far it’s been going well, Tran said, with all robots following Asimov’s Laws as of publication time. On the human side, all customers must comply with Oakland’s proof of vaccination mandate, Tran said — and for those who can’t follow that rule, delivery and takeout are still available. True, if you order takeout, a robot won’t bring your food out to you, but you’ll still get to enjoy Monster Pho’s well-regarded soups, noodles and rice plates.

Hours for dine-in service remain the same as its delivery and takeout hours: Wednesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Be prepared to wait for a table, though: when I talked to Tran today, he had “a full house right now with customers dining and to-go” orders. Once the word is out, expect that house to get even fuller.

Eve Batey has worked as a reporter and editor since 2004, including as the co-founder of SFist, as a deputy managing editor of the SF Chronicle and as the editor of Eater San Francisco.