I have been on a pho' quest lately and my work takes me into or near the pho' center in San Jose so I have been trying the 'hounds favorite in SJ for the last few months. I have eaten at Pho Bang and was not terribly impressed. I went to Nam Tien, which I enjoyed though the oxtail that I had in my soup was a little cool inside...had been taken out of a refrigerator. Otherwise, though I enjoyed the oxtail flavor of the broth and would return definitely.
Soon thereafter, I was out in Livermore for work and was looking for something more than the fast food chains around 580. I remembered that there were some more interesting restaurants in a minimall up on Vasco road on the way to Brentwood. I saw "Me and Cha's" and despite the name I decided to go in. I ordered the pho' and was really pleasantly surprised by the pho'...in fact the more I enjoyed my everything pho' (beef ball, tripe, tenden, flank etc.), I realized that it was fresher tasting and better than Nam Tien's in my book (without some of the less than pleasant atmosphere over there). In fact, I couldn't think of a pho' that I had had that was as good as this one, particularly in the area of the broth as well as the general freshness of the ingredients.
I looked around and noticed that other people's dishes also looked good and that they all had the look of plates or bowls of food where the ingredients were carefully selected and prepared in a way that didn't "kill" their freshness and distinctness.
I returned there today and enjoyed another bowl of pho' (I was tempted by some of the other offerings but decided to stick with the great noodle soup) and my first impressions were confirmed.
Now I am not Vietnamese, so I don't know if this place is the BEST, BEST of all. But I have been trying to follow the recommendations here and I challenge other pho' phans to make the trip out to the very eastern edge of the Bay Area or get off 580 on their way to or from the Central Valley and try "Me and Cha's" for the pho and maybe for other Vietnamese delicacies.
Me & Cha's Flavor of Vietnam
1548 N Vasco Rd, Livermore, CA 94551