Just a field report in my quest for above-decent local pho.
A recent trip to the relatively new Pho Binh, on 74th just off Roosevelt, was pretty uninspiring. One ominous note was the appearance of a former waiter from Pho Bac - we didn't like him there, and we didn't like him here. (And we spotted him working at the Pho Bang in the Elmhurst strip mall when we went in for coffee in September.)
IMO, Pho Binh achieved its highest altitude right when it opened, but unfortunately does not seem capable of any greater heights. The pho was acceptable, the broth just ok. Better than the worst I ever had (Pho Bang in Flushing,) but not worthy of a special trip. Fine if you've just gotten off the train at Roosevelt and aren't up to any further travel, and need a big bowl of soup to put you right.
In contrast, I was encouraged by my visit last week to Pho Bac. I'd laid off the place for a long while, but I was in the midst of a cold and needed a pho fix. I could actually taste the broth here, and it tasted quite good! I also tried a papaya salad w/ pork & shrimp that they were advertising as a new dish. I liked the flavor of the salad (though it wasn't as limey as the Thai papapya salads I'm used to,) but the shrimp (slices of boiled shrimp) and pork (little strips of barbecued pork) were nothing to write home about and as a whole the dish didn't really come together. Maybe it was my nose (though I have to say the pho had done a good job improving my sense of smell,) but the elements just didn't coalesce. Still, the nice pho and the absence of annoying-waiter-man are reason for me to go back with a couple more testers and try some other benchmarks.