Jump to content

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 246
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

On Tuesdays, one of the specials at the cafeteria at National Geographic is Pho, and I've been meaning to try it, but haven't had the chance until today. It's very basic, but very good. The broth is i

While wandering around Clarendon I had the Pho Ga at 4 Sisters Grill.   I thought the broth was excellent and went well with the chicken...exceptionally well/ remarkably well.  I didn't add either sau

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 aroun

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
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
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
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.

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
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
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
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
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
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. 

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
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
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
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I sampled some of my daughter’s pho ga (which I will always pick over beef) & it was very good, especially if you mix in some of the sate sauce.  We usually have pho at East wind in Fairfax, but we decided to try something different. My son had eaten here before & wanted us to try it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pho Duong in the shopping strip at Pickett Rd and Main St in Fairfax City was excellent on a rainy, cool Sunday afternoon.  Had it with skirt flank and added little else.  Broth was wonderfully aromatic, skirt flank pieces were a perfect balance of fat and lean.   Can't speak to the rest of the menu but this was strong pho. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, yeah said:

Pho Duong in the shopping strip at Pickett Rd and Main St in Fairfax City was excellent on a rainy, cool Sunday afternoon.  Had it with skirt flank and added little else.  Broth was wonderfully aromatic, skirt flank pieces were a perfect balance of fat and lean.   Can't speak to the rest of the menu but this was strong pho. 

This is the one in the same shopping center as Total Wine, next to (Izakaya) Blue Ocean? If so, have you been to the latter recently?  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a comment about Pho Ga (chicken Pho) in certain places like Pho Golden Cow and Pho Sate. When you order chicken pho, what you get is pho with beef broth and chicken meat.  The broth is not made with chicken stock. So they basically replace the meat and call it chicken pho. I don't go to those places any more because of that  bait and switch.

Link to post
Share on other sites

On Tuesdays, one of the specials at the cafeteria at National Geographic is Pho, and I've been meaning to try it, but haven't had the chance until today. It's very basic, but very good. The broth is incredibly rich, not fatty, and not sweet like I've had at a lot of other places. The quality of the meat is better than I've had at some places in the 'burbs--it was incredibly tender and flavorful.

So if you find yourself stuck in midtown or golden triangle on a Tuesday, you might just want to give it a try.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, sandynva said:

Curious— does anyone have any opinions  on who makes the best vegetarian pho in the area? 

This is an interesting question, because the broth itself is what makes Pho, and of course, traditionally, it's beef-based with bones and marrow - I'm also curious if there are any articles on the internet about "rules" and/or "customs" for vegetarian broth in Vietnam (surely there are vegetarians in Vietnam, right?)

My guess, and it's just a guess, is that you're probably going to be getting some variant on a vegetable bouillon cube, and those are pretty unexciting - I suspect someone like Joe Yonan knows the answer to this question - have you considered writing in to his chat? If you do, please let us know if he replies.

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, DonRocks said:

This is an interesting question, because the broth itself is what makes Pho, and of course, traditionally, it's beef-based with bones and marrow - I'm also curious if there are any articles on the internet about "rules" and/or "customs" for vegetarian broth in Vietnam (surely there are vegetarians in Vietnam, right?)

My family's vegetarian pho broth is a bit of a cheat, using vegetable broth, and includes leeks, star anise, five spice powder and soy sauce. 

Andrea Nguyen (author of acclaimed pho cookbook) has a similar recipe from the Pho cookbook as well as a more modern recipe that includes nutritional yeast. 

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, eatruneat said:

My family's vegetarian pho broth is a bit of a cheat, using vegetable broth, and includes leeks, star anise, five spice powder and soy sauce. 

Andrea Nguyen (author of acclaimed pho cookbook) has a similar recipe from the Pho cookbook as well as a more modern recipe that includes nutritional yeast. 

Thank you for this response - I've written Andrea, and asked her to chime in here. I'm sure she's quite busy, but we can always cross our fingers and hope. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/16/2018 at 8:43 AM, thistle said:

Yes, I sampled some of my daughter’s pho ga (which I will always pick over beef) & it was very good, especially if you mix in some of the sate sauce.  We usually have pho at East wind in Fairfax, but we decided to try something different. My son had eaten here before & wanted us to try it.

On 9/25/2018 at 5:45 PM, kieplangdu said:

Just a comment about Pho Ga (chicken Pho) in certain places like Pho Golden Cow and Pho Sate. When you order chicken pho, what you get is pho with beef broth and chicken meat.  The broth is not made with chicken stock. So they basically replace the meat and call it chicken pho. I don't go to those places any more because of that  bait and switch.

On 9/29/2018 at 6:24 PM, eatruneat said:

My family's vegetarian pho broth is a bit of a cheat, using vegetable broth, and includes leeks, star anise, five spice powder and soy sauce. 

Andrea Nguyen (author of acclaimed pho cookbook) has a similar recipe from the Pho cookbook as well as a more modern recipe that includes nutritional yeast. 

While wandering around Clarendon I had the Pho Ga at 4 Sisters Grill.   I thought the broth was excellent and went well with the chicken...exceptionally well/ remarkably well.  I didn't add either sauce.  It stood out on its own.   I have no idea what kind of stock was used....but it simply bonded beautifully with the chicken.   In my opinion a winner of a broth.   Pho is not the focus of that restaurant...but now I have to go back to get the pho with beef.  (I think they only offer one kind of beef). (Its really not a pho restaurant)

  • Like 1
  • Confused 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/22/2019 at 6:52 PM, Griffin747 said:

In late 2019, where will we find the best bowl of pho?

Generally, I prefer Northern Virginia and Pho Thang Long or Pho Saigon. I also enjoy Pho Duong.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Jim

Any further suggestions w/r/t Jim's query (best pho these days)?  I haven't tried any of the three he mentions, nor Balo.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/31/2020 at 11:19 AM, ElGuapo said:

The Wheaton location is still open and still has very good, second best, broth in MD, so top 5 in the area for sure.  Pho 88 in Beltsville still the king

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




×
×
  • Create New...