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Memoirs of a Pho Virgin

crosby_p | Mar 10, 2008 09:50 AM

reposted per Chowhound team!

Having read the recs for Pho on these boards, I headed to Pho #1 yesterday at about 11am. The restaurant is quite beautiful inside, and I was seated immediately (I was the only one there, but that soon changed). It was very cold and windy so Pho sounded like a good idea. I explained that I had never had it before, and was handed a large menu, and asked what I wanted to drink. I was a little nervous about tendon and tripe, so I ordered the rare beef and brisket one. I asked for a rec on beer, and the bartender, whose name was Kenny, told me of a Thai beer, but I can't remember the name....began with an S. quite tasty!
I had a book with me but didn't even get a chance to open it before a plate with bean sprouts, Thai basil and jalapeno slices (fresh) was placed on the table. Shortly after that, a waiter brought out a bowl that was about the size of a small bathroom sink, and set it down before me! What a treat! Slices of rare beef, onions, a bit of scallions and cilantro, a spoon and chopsticks. I added a shot of siracha and went to town...it was delicious...a delicate beefy broth with paper thin slices of rare beef and brisket. Then came the surprise! After eating the bean spouts, onions, and beef, I found a treasure trove of noodles underneath it all! It seemed as if I was eating for hours! I couldn't finish all the noodles...next time I will stir it around before beginning!
The manager, Kenny, who is also the bartender, spent about 20-minutes with me, explaining things. He said the restaurant is family owned, and that is what you get there..home cooking. He told me about the three levels of heat...siracha, which is the lowest, then a red chili-type sauce with seeds, then the hottest, a dark brown sauce with seeds that he says is house made. He told me about a website, phofever.com, where I could find pho spots in any city I was visiting, and also get educated about the soup. He said the Social Security Administration is right nearby and lots of those folks frequent the place. He also told me that they had just recently filmed an episode of "Whose wedding is it anyway" for the Style Network in the restaurant, as the bride was part Korean and Vietnamese (I think!)...they had to close for the day, but gave all their regulars 15-percent off the next time they came in for being inconvenienced...now that's how to do business! He wasn't sure when the episode would be shown.
So I know this is a very long post, but just in case there are those like me who are wanting to try pho, DO IT! It was so tasty I could go back today! Kenny told me the next time I came in he would recommend other Vietnamese dishes to try, as they have many different ones there. The curry shrimp with lemongrass caught my attention! I am now a Pho convert, thanks to these boards!

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