Visited Pho Ao Sen today, based on a long ago tip from someone on this board.
As is our custom, I ordered Pho Tai (w/rare steak) and Holly ordered Bun Thit Nuong, this time with imperial rolls too.
The pho is quite simply the best I have ever eaten. The broth was delicate yet beefier than usual, and took on the flavors of all the bits of leaves and chiles that I put in it over the course of the meal. Noodles tender but not too mushy, and steak actually raw in some parts that floated on top of the broth when I got the soup.
The Bun Thit Nuong (marinated grilled pork with rice noodle and veggies/nuoc cham) was tasty, as usual, with the imperial rolls shining particularly brightly. They must use a mixture of ground pork and ground shrimp (perhaps this is standard), as the flavor was just this side of fishy, yet really good (and me not a fan of fishy flavors). We enjoyed the rolls but soon Holly was sharing the Pho with me and a lot of the pork went uneaten.
Of course, this was a big day in our chowhoundedness...in the middle of the meal, Holly proclaimed that next time, she was just going to get pho, at the risk of being repetitive. (I guess pho is an acquired taste, and today is the day she acquired it.) I take it as an opportunity to try some of the other pho combinations...though I do like always getting to have a little bit of her bun thit nuong.
But I digress. Conclusion: Pho best anywhere, bun thit a notch or two below Tu Lan and Pho 84. Fact that we never would have known the place was worth visiting without this beautiful resource you are using right now mentioned several times. Click link below to support Chowhound, you need it! I need it! Thank you, now to dessert
PHO AO SEN. 200 International Blvd (Int'l at 2nd). 510-839-6821. 7days, 7am-9pm
TU LAN. 6th and Market, SF
PHO 84. Uh...17th and franklin? Oakland.