"This place is amazing. The Pho is obviously the popular menu item but everything I have had has been delicious! I have also had the specialty noodle soups, which are a completely different flavor than the Pho, taste a bit like Japanese ramen, but are also fantastic... "
The Vietnamese beef noodle soup, known as PHO, is sometimes called the quintessential Vietnamese dish. In a cuisine known for its divine soups - an American culinary authority has once said that the Vietnamese have a "genius for soups" - PHO stands out as the Vietnamese soup, just as hamburgers and hotdogs are American staples.
Because of its universal fame, PHO has been claimed by both Chinese and French to be a dish derived from their tradition - the goat noodle soup from Guangxi and the French pot-au-feu. No matter what its origin may be thought to be, PHO is today known throughout the world as a wholesome Vietnamese meal in itself.
The secret allure of PHO resides in its broth. Made out of a stock of beef soup bones and let to simmer over a low fire for hours before being served piping hot, a good PHO broth must spread its characteristic aroma far and wide, thus attracting even customers who may just happen to go by. A fine PHO broth should be clear yet rich and nourishing, hot enough to slightly cook the raw beef slices (pho tai) for those who just like it that way. But the meat offerings going with PHO can vary from well-done brisket (pho chin) to well-done flank (nam), skirt flank (ve don), fat brisket (gau), soft tendon (gan) and bible tripe (sach), or any combination of these. The white and soft rice noodle strands provide not only a lovely contrast to the meat combination but also blend aesthetically with the green herbs (cilantro, basil, onion, spring onions) that are thrown above the whole thing. A side dish would offer bean sprouts and a couple of additional fresh herbs that some people also would like to mix in with the soup broth. A cut of lime, when squeezed into the soup, brings up the flavor of the whole dish.
Dietetically, PHO is a very fulfilling dish - a hot and balanced meal in itself at a fraction of the price of a full meal in regular restaurants. And for those who occasionally would like a change of taste, a PHO bowl serving chicken instead of beef is always a welcome addition to one's taste bud experience.