Number 12: Pho

25 Jan

I’m falling a little bit behind on this challenge.  I have just over 2 months remaining to complete it, and 26 foods to eat.  It’s definitely doable, but it’s gonna be tough.  Last night, I scoured the internet for restaurants to visit and recipes to follow, then I placed a very strange and very large order on Amazon…more details to come.  Last night’s research also resulted in the composition of a super long list of restaurants I need to hit up, one being a place just down the street where I could get some Vietnamese noodle soup called pho (pronounced “fuh”).

Like practically every Asian restaurant I’ve ever been to, this one had kick-ass lunch specials.  For just eight bucks, I found myself driving home with an entire liter of pho, a small bowl of chicken soup, a spring roll, and a crab rangoon.  It also came with another container full of random odds and ends – noodles, bean sprouts, herbs, hot peppers – that I had no idea what to do with.  After several minutes of staring and a couple Google searches, I found out that at most restaurants, you “assemble” your own pho.

I poured a few ladlefuls of broth, Vietnamese pork meatballs, and chicken into my bowl, then added a healthy helping of bean sprouts and rice noodles.  I threw one hot pepper in there for a little kick, but left the others behind.  I’m a wimp.

The result was pretty awesome.  The broth kind of reminded me of a Thai curry, powerfully aromatic and slightly sweet, but with a hint of spice.  I think what I loved most about this soup was the variety of textures.  Cool, crisp bean sprouts, tender meatballs, silky rice noodles…getting a bite with all of those components was awesome.

THE VERDICT
As someone who regularly denounces soup, I quite enjoyed this.  I love soups that have a lot more “stuff” than broth, and this is definitely one of those.  I also like how you can prepare it to your liking.  Want a spicy dish?  Throw in some more peppers.  Hate bean sprouts?  Only use a couple.  You like leaves in your food?  Good, we have plenty!  (Yeah, I’m not good at identifying fresh herbs- they’re all leaves to me.)  Anyways, the moral to this story is that it’s pretty hard to dislike pho when you can basically make it exactly how you want it.  Picky eaters, rejoice!

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5 Responses to “Number 12: Pho”

  1. Laura in Cancun January 26, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    I’m not a fan of soups, either, although this one looks above average.

    I do like “creamy” soups, does that count?

  2. Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic January 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    I have ALWAYS wanted to try this. After a friend always raved about it, before I moved to AL he and I never got a chance to go grab some. Here where I live I’ve never seen a single ad for it… which makes me sad. Maybe one visit home I’ll have to find a place it sounds perfect!!! It sounds right up my alley!

  3. Big Onion January 27, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    We have a huge Vietnamese community in the NOLA area, so we’ve got a ton of options for pho. I’m super glad you enjoyed it!

    Those leaves are Thai basil. Most places down here also throw a couple lime wedges in with the herbs/sprouts mix.

    If this place you went to has bo kho (beef stew), get it. It’s made a little differently than pho, but every place I’ve had it at it has been the most kickass thing in the world. (I made it at home once, too. Just as awesome.)

  4. IntenseGuy January 29, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    You took some really great photos… So good I could almost eat ’em at my monitor!

  5. Amy February 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    I love pho!! There are some great places to get it in denver, it is always a treat. Way better than chicken noodle soup if you’re sick also!.. although im sure you’ve never gone there. Never got one with meatballs.. I like the thinly sliced rare beef in mine, almost carpaccio that the hot broth cooks more. Yum

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