Pho (Vietnamese noodles)

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yumbo
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2003/05/06 02:06:15 (permalink)

Pho (Vietnamese noodles)

OK. Since we've explored the Banh Mi vein - Anyone care to talk about Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup)? In Seattle I favor the Than Brothers chain. Their broth is always good (not greasy), service is fast, and their complimentary pastries are dynamite. I can't think of a better antidote to Seattle rain.

To the uninitiated: Pho is a traditional rice noodle dish served in a beef (?) broth. Think of those cheap instant noodles, only 100 times better and homemade. Usually served with a variety of meats ranging like sliced steak or brisket, plus cilantro and thinly sliced onions. It comes with a plate of Asian basil, mung beans, and jalapeno slices so that you can customize your bowl. You can also add hot sauce and hoisin sauce. It's cheap (about $4) and filling. If you want to explore this, go to your local Asian neighborhood and look for signs that say "Pho."
#1

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    jessicazee
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/06 16:15:50 (permalink)
    Pho is my "chicken soup" - anytime I feel a little under the weather, a big bowl of it will help out.

    In Milwaukee, two places make it right - Phan's Garden on W. National Ave. is perfect. You can taste the subtle spice in the broth - star anise and clove I think, and the rare slices of beef cook quickly in the broth. The rice noodles aren't sticky, and the toppings are fresh - bean sprouts, mint, basil, jalapeno slices, lime wedges & the sauce rack - nam pla (fish sauce, hoisin, spicy red sauce). There's also onion & cilantro in there with everything else.

    You can also order the pho with various meats - weirdly good rubbery meatballs, tripe, shrimp, squid, soft tendon, even chicken.

    The other place is West Bank Cafe, a slightly more upscale French-Vietnamese place in the Riverwest neighborhood.
    #2
    pigface
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/06 19:30:19 (permalink)
    Our PHO neighborhood is in Windsor, Canada. The Suburb of Detroit in another country.
    Dozens of PHO houses, and real cheap, plus with the Canadian / American exchange rate
    a half gallon of soup (medium Bowl) costs about $3-4 dollars. And a LArge platter of bean sprouts, limes, cilantro, and the last time I was there, we got a whole Thia basil plant. Did I mention REAL Canadian Beer ?
    Nothing compaired to the stuff imported here ...
    #3
    ali b
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/07 12:40:01 (permalink)
    i haven't had it since i've been back in nyc, but i used to eat it alot in DC. the trick is to let them make it for you like a native with the tripe and tendon and other unidentifiable stuff in it...yummm!
    #4
    rumbelly
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/08 17:38:02 (permalink)
    Love pho, cheapest fast meal on earth. If the place you frequent has decent pho then try some of the other dishes. We just did that last week with about 8 of us. The table looked like a battlefield which I guess in a way it was. I find eating in groups in these joints great cause you can try a bunch of different things and if you don't like a dish (and there will be at least one) then others will eat it making for a tension free environment.
    #5
    Cosmos
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/09 08:00:16 (permalink)
    Mai-Lan in Syracuse, a short walk from my office has wonderful pho. I love it in the winter time, nice and hot, a little spicey, great fresh basil...really clears your head.
    #6
    jpatweb
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/09 09:00:42 (permalink)
    The DC area's large Vietnamese community has made Pho in these parts, particularly the Northern Virginia suburbs, ubiquitous. Most preparations follow the same basic formula although subtle differences can be detected from shop to shop. My favorite and the place I always steer visitors to is Pho 75 on lower Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn. It's a great wide open room with communal tables, the soup is served mere moments after it's ordered, and it's dirt cheap and delicious. They also add a special touch to their iced coffee, which in many other shops is an afterthought. As for the main ingredient, I'm a conservative sliced steak kind of guy. I'm intrigued by the listings of tripe, tendons, and other body parts listed on the menu but don't have the nerve to try them.
    #7
    yumbo
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/09 13:22:51 (permalink)
    So how do you folks like to fix your Pho? I generally add all of the basil (shredded to make it last longer), lots of bean sprouts, hoisin, a little hotsauce, a lime slice, and a slice or two of jalapeno. Having not been raised with fish sauce, i've been a little wary of adding it.
    #8
    rumbelly
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/09 13:31:14 (permalink)
    The places I go serve the usual hoisin, soya and vinegars. They also put on the table these whole little red chilis. OK, I had to ask what am I supposed to do with these? I was told it was up to me. Some just break it and stir it in for minor heat rush. I watched others crush it in the spoon then add for more heat. I now break open a couple and squeeze them a bit, stir it round and hope I can find them before chawing into a whole one. Returns the colour to your face after a night.
    #9
    vinelady
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/09 15:08:19 (permalink)
    You really should give the fish sauce a try. But remember that a little goes a long way.
    #10
    jessicazee
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/10 17:13:42 (permalink)
    You can take tiny, tiny bites of the peppers in between slurps of soup and noodle. I never add all the bean sprouts, but wish I would get more lime wedges. I add a lot of fish sauce, and hoisin. Toward the end after most of the meat & broth is gone I go crazy with the chili sauce to liven up the noodles. And I use all the herbs they offer - mint, basil & sometimes cilantro.
    #11
    Gordon
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/12 05:53:54 (permalink)
    I've had the privilege of eating pho at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi (subsequently identified as Ground Zero for SARS, but this was before). You've got to use all the vegs, condiments and herbs, especially the basil!! (Not because of SARS.) In the United States, you have to spice it up with the Thai hot sauce that has the rooster in white paint on the bottle. The fish sauce definitely -- nuoc mam (also known as nuke bomb) -- BAM!! will kick it up a notch.
    #12
    Cosmos
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/15 16:47:18 (permalink)
    The fish sauce I have used is called nam-plah. I know how its made(toxic waste)...I can't stand the taste (toxic waste), and will never use it again!
    #13
    Gordon
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/19 01:41:12 (permalink)
    "Nam pla" is from Thailand. "Patis" in the Philippines. Same principle as nuoc mam You kind of layer sardine-sized fish with salt in a vat, and whatever comes out at the bottom in due course is the product. Definitely an acquired taste.
    #14
    yumbo
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/19 12:28:18 (permalink)
    The Swedes and Norwegians do something similar to their fish. I think it's a product of having to preserve protein sources for those lean times. Life hands you lemons, make lemonade!
    #15
    paul and louise
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/19 15:49:02 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Cosmos

    The fish sauce I have used is called nam-plah. I know how its made(toxic waste)...I can't stand the taste (toxic waste), and will never use it again!


    dude
    are you not supposed to mix the the fish sauce with other ingredients
    to make another sauce?
    if you tried it straight from the bottle....
    well, i don't imagine i would like it either
    ps wooster sauce is the same principle
    #16
    CoreyEl
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/05/19 18:13:44 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by jessicazee


    In Milwaukee, two places make it right - Phan's Garden on W. National Ave. is perfect. You can taste the subtle spice in the broth - star anise and clove I think, and the rare slices of beef cook quickly in the broth. The rice noodles aren't sticky, and the toppings are fresh - bean sprouts, mint, basil, jalapeno slices, lime wedges & the sauce rack - nam pla (fish sauce, hoisin, spicy red sauce). There's also onion & cilantro in there with everything else.


    Try the Saigon Restaurant right across the street from Phan's. Their Pho is as good, and I'm partial to their spring rolls (goi cuon). Phan's puts wilted iceberg lettuce in theirs which is a SACRILEGE!!
    #17
    kdimboden
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/06/30 04:57:29 (permalink)
    The best pho I've found by far in quality (and quantity- there is a pho joint in just about every neighborhood) is here in the Bay Area. If anyone is ever here, Pho Hoa on Castro Street in Mountain View is far and away the best. It's part of a national chain, but for some reason the pho there just seems to be a cut above, whether the noodles have better texture, the beef has more flavor, or the fact that bean sprouts and basil always seem very fresh.
    #18
    pimple2
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/25 01:12:02 (permalink)
    Salt& pepper squid: Portland Oregon aka paradise
    in 1991, happened to chance upon a clutch of vietnamese restaurants on one of the roads leading away from the airport, not the better known restaurants within Portland proper. Exceptional salt& pepper squid, unequalled in Ptland and Klackamas restaurants, or in Manhattan's Chinatown; inexpensive too, for the qty; come on you archangels/las dwelling in Portland, let's hear it from on high!!!

    p.s. re sausages and dogs, the portoguese style chorizo and linguicas [e.g. Gaspars] can be quite toothsome; also, will someone at Marathon enterpise tell us where we can get Paley dogs[ see New York Eats Out-Again] warmest regards
    #19
    rumtussle
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/25 03:32:36 (permalink)
    Hi all--

    Just found this forum today and so excited to be here.

    I think the best pho in Seattle is in White Center at a place that is called (I think) White Center Pho. I love Than Brothers for their cream puffs, but the pho ga (that would be chicken) is really, really good in White Center. And I like to do it differently every time, but my favorite way to eat pho is with lots & lots of habanero sauce.

    Rumty
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    Jellybeans
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/25 04:25:35 (permalink)
    Hi all! Pho sounds all well and good but do they have any version of it that doesn't include any beef or beef broth? I'm buddhist and haven't touched beef for many years now...
    #21
    EliseT
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/25 04:47:17 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Gordon

    "Nam pla" is from Thailand. "Patis" in the Philippines. Same principle as nuoc mam You kind of layer sardine-sized fish with salt in a vat, and whatever comes out at the bottom in due course is the product. Definitely an acquired taste.


    Umm, I hate to tell you guys this, but do you eat worcestershire sauce?

    www.birminghamuk.com/worcester_sauce.htm
    #22
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/25 05:25:35 (permalink)
    EliseT: neat info on the "whats this here" sauce. First time I ever saw that.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #23
    lleechef
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/25 07:20:57 (permalink)
    Best pho I ever had is at Pho Pasteur in Boston. Here in Anchorage, jam bong is much more popular.
    #24
    jgleduc
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/25 08:35:08 (permalink)
    I also love Boston's Pho Pasteur. I spent a few months a couple of years back temping at Tufts Dental School (which was an experience in itself), down on Kneeland St. in Chinatown. I would walk down to Pho Pasteur at least a couple times a week for lunch. I always liked that location better than their Cambridge one - that seemed a little too fancy for me. Just chicken and noodles for me, please, though - hold the tripe and beef balls.
    #25
    Hiram Callahan
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/25 10:22:12 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by ali b

    i haven't had it since i've been back in nyc, but i used to eat it alot in DC. the trick is to let them make it for you like a native with the tripe and tendon and other unidentifiable stuff in it...yummm!


    Ali:

    While I am not a pho expert--perhaps a faux expert is more like it--I understand that there is much good pho in New York. The one I eat most often is at Saigon Grill on Amsterdam Avenue (90th Street). The meat is sliced beef, and the menu doesn't offer any meat alternatives that I recall, but it's warm and yummy. Saigon Grill also has an Upper East Side location.

    Otherwise, there are many Chinatown Vietnamese restaurants with Pho in their names. I would check Zagat's or the cheap Asian Eats page at the Village Voice, http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0220/cheapeats.php . You can do a keyword search there for pho, and get four results.

    Happy slurping!
    #26
    Howard Baratz
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/26 08:16:44 (permalink)
    Excellent pho in Tulsa at Pho Ca Dao. Getting the condiment mix just right is part of the entertainment. For my taste, a bit of plum sauce for richness, lots of hot sauce and a couple of good spritzes of lime juice do the trick. I also like to add some of the mung beans to the broth and keep some out to be added every now and then for extra crunch.

    By the way, Tulsa has a fairly large Vietnamese community, many of whom headed here after landing at Ft. Chaffee, AR at the end of the Viet Nam war. Due to this influx, we also have a world-class Vietnamese restaurant named Ri Le. Ri Le himself, a charming man who was a decorated South Vietnamese helicopter pilot, tells me that back home pho is breakfast food, fortifying the family for a hard day's work.
    #27
    CoreyEl
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/26 11:26:10 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Howard Baratz

    By the way, Tulsa has a fairly large Vietnamese community, many of whom headed here after landing at Ft. Chaffee, AR at the end of the Viet Nam war.


    Several very good Vietnamese restaurants in Fort Smith, AR for probably this same reason. I've tried Pho Vietnam on Rogers Street and have heard good things about a couple on Zero street as well.
    #28
    Mayhaw Man
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/26 12:34:45 (permalink)
    In keeping with the theory that "the relationship between the deliciousness of oriental food is inversely proportional to the quality of strip mall it is located in" I would like to mention Yutaro in Kenner, LA. Kenner is a dumpy little suburb by the airport in NOLA. This place is all of five minutes from the airport and makes a great place for a snack if yo have some time to kill. Wonderful soups. I mean really wonderful, lift you up and send you running to Sunday meeting good. Family owned (they also own the great oriental market next door, source of great sushi fish and wierd spices and sauces and really cheap, high quality oriental cookware. I am attaching a link to the only review I could find.

    Also, the review mentions Tampopo, one of the great food movies of all time. You've heard of Spaghetti Westerns? This is a Noodle Western. Great Movie. Which brings up an idea. How about a Great Food Movie Thread?
    Here is the link
    http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2002-10-01/restreview.html
    #29
    EliseT
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    RE: Pho (Vietnamese noodles) 2003/07/26 20:01:57 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Jellybeans

    Hi all! Pho sounds all well and good but do they have any version of it that doesn't include any beef or beef broth? I'm buddhist and haven't touched beef for many years now...


    You can choose not to have the beef added, but most of the time the broth is made with beef and oxtail. My mother-in-law-to-be is a Buddhist monk, and I have discovered that most Asian places understand "Buddhist" even if they don't have enough English for "vegetarian" or "meat", so you can always ask. Sometimes she just shows them her necklace of Quan Yin (sp?) and they nod and bring out vegetarian food.

    You can make your own veggie version:

    www.geocities.com/sandieb101/pho.html
    #30
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