Some of the fun of hounding is being willing to try something unknown nearby when plans fall through. We remembered that A&J serves breakfast fare and mistakenly thought that they were open early on Sunday. Turns out they open at 10am, which was not going to work with either our schedule (needed to be at Glen Echo by 11:30)or the Chowpup.
As we got back into the car and headed toward 495 (we were headed to Eden Center), I spotted an "open" sign in the plaza across the street at Pho Hot. This precipitated a high speed turn into the plaza.
Pho Hot is the fanciest Pho place we've ever visited. The interior has cheerful bright yellow walls. Video screens alternating photos of Vietnam, their dishes, and, inexplicably, one of the Windows XP default screen savers, appear througout the place. Our chowpup was fascinated. There's a little sculpture in the center with a stylized pho bowl, complete with waving steam. Each of the side walls has a small fountain. It's also huge, easily twice the size of any other Pho place we've visited. Obviously, this is not "fancy" on the scale of any expense account restaurant, but it is not going to turn off your non-hound friends who won't patronize dives. In this case, the fancy decor did not mean the food had been Americanized. We were the only non-Asians in the place.
The menu included all the usual pho combinations. Unlike many pho places, they do offer a small selection of appetizers. The cha gio was top quality. There was something unusual in the dipping sauce. We couldn't identify the flavor, but it was a good addition.
The pho itself was a bit lighter on star anise than I prefer, but the broth had definitely seen plenty of beef and beef bones. The amount of meat was generous (I went for #2, eye round, well-done flank, tripe, and tendon), and the tendon was tender. Some places use sort of grisly tendon. Accompanying greens incuded what was, for us, a mystery green. It may have been saw tooth herb. It was like a flat, narrow lettuce, with a wonderful buttery flavor like Belgian endive.
They also had a kid's pho, which we ordered for the chowpup. They must know kids, because the menu offered the dish with or without scallions. The chowpup despises scallions. My one criticism is that the kid's pho should have been served a bit cooler. We had to dose it with ice to bring it to kid-friendly temperatures.
Pho Hot is open 6am to midnight on weekdays (last serving is at 11:45, and 9am to midnight on weekends.
Usual disclaimer: No affiliation.
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