I know I say this all the time, but I love my culturally mishmoshed neighborhood so much, particularly culinarily. Hole in the wall ethnic restaurants are the best- cheap, authentic and homey.
Tonight my friend came over and as she hung up she mentioned “getting food”. Then I looked at the gloomy weather and my brain went PHO PHO PHO PHO and wouldn’t stop, so I dragged her out for Pho (she had never tried it- fortunately she liked it!)
Pho= Vietnamese beef noodle soup experience. The experience goes as follows.
Step 1. Locale
Hah Lauren did not know I was taking this. So anyway this one’s my current fave. And I’m delighted to’ve taken its picture, not because it’s high on curb appeal (it is clearly not) but because now I can remember the name of it, which I never can when telling people it’s my favorite (to be fair, the name has changed multiple times).
The interior, believe it or not, is nicer than many of the Pho places in my area:
Yeah it’s Formica and plain chairs, but look how much bigger than usual the CNN-airing TV is!
Step 2: the customizations.
Fresh basil, fresh sliced chilis, lime halves, bean sprouts, and chili paste (and Sriricha, off to the side!)
Step 3 (crucially): the soup itself
I love how every culture has its version of hot soup with carbs. Matzo ball soup, avgolemono, pho. It all comes down to comfort and delicious- throwing some great ingredients on a stove, making a delicious nourishing broth, and serving it. It’s economical, it’s delicious, it’s great when you have a cold, and it is comfort food at its finest.
Here’s my bowl once I finished with it:
Deeeeeeecked outttttttttttt. I’ve noticed over the years that all the actual Vietnamese people dye their soup red with Sriracha, so I do the same, with delicious results.
Today I decided to be adventurous and get eye round, flank steak, and TENDON! (Not badass enough for tripe). The tendon generally infuses the broth with a nice flavor, though is itself on the weird looking side. Next time I might go a bit more Anglo and just get the steak.
But man oh man, pho soothes the soul. The broth is complex and rich and flavorful and at the same time everything is light and refreshing: rice noodles, just little bits of meat, minimal oil, fresh herbs and lime and chilis. LOVE IT!