Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I never realized how much I loved pho until I lived in a place that doesn't have it. The closest thing in or near Myrtle Beach is something called Vietnamese noodle soup at a local pan-Asian eatery--it's not bad, but it isn't pho. They don't sell enough of it to really pay attention to the broth or the quality of their ingredients. I can get plum sauce, sriracha, jalapenos, sprouts, etc., on the side, so I load up the bowl and pretend.....

Oh, for the days when I could drop by Pho 75 for a bowl.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For ya'll Rockvillers, my personal top 2 choices are Pho 75 and Pho Hoa Binh (buy 10 get 1 free!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want Pho Ga as opposed to a beef version, I have found Rice Paper in the Eden Center has a very good rendition.  It's especially good when you don't feel very good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why do Pho places identify by number? I've seen this nationally. Not like you see sushi or curry houses named liked this. Curious phenomenon... Is this how it's done in 'Nam?

Since I don't eat beef, pho is lost on me. Chicken pho is not exciting at all (to me), I've tried 75, Pho-viet, and several other places. I'd rather have ramen.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why do Pho places identify by number? I've seen this nationally. Not like you see sushi or curry houses named liked this. Curious phenomenon... Is this how it's done in 'Nam?

They're years. Pho 75 most likely commemorates the fall of Saigon (*)

Here's some supplemental information.

More detail on reddit.com.

As for the two Alexandria pho houses, Pho King (closed) and  Pho Kim (**), I did not ask them for their thoughts.

(*) If you go to the Vietnam Wall, you'll notice that on the far left is 1959, and on the far right is 1975.

(**) When they had a line, it was a Pho Queue.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They're years. Pho 75 most likely commemorates the fall of Saigon (*)

Here's some supplemental information.

More detail on reddit.com.

As for the two Alexandria pho houses, Pho King (closed) and  Pho Kim (**), I did not ask them for their thoughts.

(*) If you go to the Vietnam Wall, you'll notice that on the far left is 1959, and on the far right is 1975.

(**) When they had a line, it was a Pho Queue.

Doesn't really explain the use of numbers in Pho houses' names. Pho 75 -- you're probably right. But for Pho 50 at Loehmann's Plaza, it presumably refers to U.S. route 50, on which it's located. Why? You might think Pho 14 is named after the year 2014 in which they opened, but of course they opened in 2009 on 14th Street in Columbia Heights, which makes the name of their other branches, in Adams Morgan and Van Ness, opened more recently, kind of nonsensical. Do people just expect Pho houses to be named like this? But then, of course, so many of them aren't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doesn't really explain the use of numbers in Pho houses' names.

Huh? Did you read the entire post, with links and all?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is an explanation that most closely follows what my parents told me when I was a kid and asked that question.
 
Just from my own personal experience, I think older pho places that have been around before pho became very popular tend to be named more traditionally, like "Pho (number)" or "Pho (name of owner/chef)." These also tend to be opened/operated by people who immigrated to the U.S. around the fall of Saigon. Whereas more recently opened places are more likely to be either owned or operated by more recent immigrants or second generation Vietnamese-Americans and they tend not to follow that same practice.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm curious what people's recommendations are now for good pho places.

I've been hunting in the area for good pho for over 5 years and I've found it really hard. By far the best bowl I've had is at Lotus Cafe in Silver Spring. This is the only pho I've had in the area where the broth is flavorful enough to stand on its own and the only pho I actually recommend to people as good. The next best broth for me was at Le Bledo Dalat in Springfield, but their meat just wasn't very good, and their noodles were pretty mediocre. Nam Viet in Cleveland Park is good enough to satisfy my craving, but it's okay, not great. Pho DC in Chinatown and Pho Eurasian (formerly Saigon Bistro) in Dupont are about on par with Pho Viet for me, although I really dislike the oddly shaped dishes they use at Pho DC.

I lump all the other pho places I've been to into pretty much one category: Pho 75 in Arlington/Falls Church, Pho 14 in Van Ness/Columbia Heights, Pho Viet in Columbia Heights, Pho Golden Cow, Vinh Loi, Pho Tay Ho, Pho 88, Pho 50, Pho Cyclo, Pho Sate, 5 Ten Food Mart, Pho King (before they closed), and Caphe Banh Mi*. All of these places have bowls of pho that look and smell nice, and taste like warm liquid. Empty, thin, bland, warm liquid. These are bowls where I take one sip and immediately reach for things to throw in. A big squirt of sriracha followed by a big squirt of hoisin. Lots of basil, tear it up and toss it in. For me, a good bowl of pho is all about the broth. You should smell the aromatics, you should taste the richness of the long simmered beef broth with a delicate sweetness balancing the saltiness and umami from the fish sauce, with a rich, satisfying mouthfeel from the gelatin extracted from the beef bones. None of these places even comes close, and I wonder if they even simmer their own bone broth, or if they just all toss some meat in a premade broth to save time. I had heard so many great things about Pho 75, Pho 14, and Pho Viet (their spicy lemongrass in particular) that it made the letdown so much worse after I tried them. Pho 75 I've found to be mediocre on its best day, and on a few occasions they've served me pho with some weird flavor in it that doesn't even taste natural. 5 Ten was the first pho I've ever had that I just really didn't want to finish, although I remember feeling close to that way about Pho King.

For now, I'm trekking out to Lotus when I want a good bowl of pho, but I'm desperately seeking more good options.

*and others, after posting this I realized I went to even more back in my days of pho hunting in NoVA that I had completely forgotten about. Pho Hot. Pho Xe Lua. Pho Viet Flare.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now that is an interesting read above.   :D

I had such a poor pho the other day I trecked over to pho 75 in Roslyn.  Dramatically better.  Had the pho tai which is round steak, brisket and soft tendon at both places.

There was a very significant improvement in the broth at pho 75.  Miles better.  Not yards--> miles.  Depth of the broth.  A considerable difference.  Didn't detect a significant difference in quantity of meat, or difference in quality.   These are not expensive cuts.   But the broth was enormously different.

I probably do pho ga about 80% of the time.  Pho Ga, chicken pho.   Damn good broth...I'd almost consider it medicinal but it aint ma's chicken soup!!!!!

Still I remain a fan of Pho 75....but that description of Lotus Cafe in Silver Spring, above, is damned enticing.

---

Lotus Cafe (Thomas P)

Cam Ranh Bay Pho & Grill (squidsdc)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I mention in the Lotus Cafe thread, after one stellar experience, 2 alright ones, and 1 truly awful, I can no longer recommend it.

I also realized today that the two places that pop up first in my mind for pho, Pho Tau Bay where I experienced my first bowl, and Lilly's which I discovered about a year ago (both in New Orleans) were also the two "hidden food treasures" in New Orleans mentioned by Tom Colicchio after filming Top Chef there. He also mentioned that the area has some of the best Vietnamese food in the country, so my view on what constitutes good pho might be a bit skewed.

"Padma, Tom, and Gail on 'Top Chef, New Orleans': 'We Were All Sad To Leave'" by Marissa Conrad on greatideas.people.com

I had a Vietnamese friend from this area that was in New Orleans at the same time as I was and said that the pho there was alright, but she still liked the pho here better. When I moved here I asked her for recommendations, and she told me she never went out for pho and always just had it at home. \o/

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/14/2015 at 6:58 PM, cheezepowder said:

It's been a long time since the last post.   Tim Carman found the classic Thai menu and writes a positive report.

Funny, I was going to write something about Pho Viet Flare. Pho lovers, take note: the broth is excellent - it's aromatic because they use a lot of star anise.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the most bland bowl of pho at Pho75 I just had to ask, was it a 10am fluke or has the place gone downhill?

Bland, really bland.  Watery even.

Roslyn was the location of my phirst pho. We took the kids because they love Pho, the place opened early and we though the 5 year old would like to visit a mom-dad date place.  Kids loved it. In fact, 2-yr old said "I love it" and 5-yr-old said "This is really good pho".  They were both wrong. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/1/2015 at 8:09 AM, NolaCaine said:

I had the most bland bowl of pho at Pho75 I just had to ask, was it a 10am fluke or has the place gone downhill?

Bland, really bland.  Watery even.

Roslyn was the location of my phirst pho. We took the kids because they love Pho, the place opened early and we though the 5 year old would like to visit a mom-dad date place.  Kids loved it. In fact, 2-yr old said "I love it" and 5-yr-old said "This is really good pho".  They were both wrong. 

I go to Pho 75 fairly often (various locations, but Rosslyn is one of them), and I almost always have a good bowl, so I think yours was a one-off. I suspect the longer this soup cooks, the better it is, and you got a new batch (have you ever looked in the kitchen and seen the pots? They're about three-feet tall! And with pots this tall, I suspect it's important to stir them; otherwise, the thinner broth would tend to rise to the top.)

We really need to do a "Behind The Kitchen Door" series with pho houses. There is very little information about who does what - in fact, none that I've ever heard of; I just make assumptions by what shows up in the bowls.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lucky Peach is a regular read for me, and I like its combination of culinary observations and literary depth. Each issue holds a place of honor is my bathroom reading rack. The current issue has really educated me on pho.

Aside from Orange County, California, and Houston, Texas, our Falls Church footprint of Vietnamese restaurants puts us in national-class territory. But does anyone know a place where they offer the more traditional Hanoi pho, where it all started? We seem to have a preponderance of Saigon style pho, which is supposedly a little lighter and with far more condiments than the northern style.

For anyone looking for a history or a primer or an encylcopedia on pho, check out the current issue.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

+1 for Pho 75

If you want a shorter trip, you could try Pho Hiep Hoa in Wheaton, or Mi La Cay around the corner from there.  Not as good as Pho 75, but enough to scratch the itch, plus Mi La Cay has Bun Bo Hue and other soups to try.  I manage to get there for lunch and back from Bethesda in an hour, but it's tight.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went to Pho Sate w/ my kids a couple of weeks ago, chicken spring rolls-great, they got pho (beef & chicken) & I tried a spicy seafood soup (maybe 506? It was delicious, but intense).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, thistle said:

they got pho (beef & chicken)

I'll admit I've never tried chicken pho, for some reason I keep thinking it would be a more milder flavor than the beef. Have you tried it personally?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×