When it lost its lease and closed three years ago, the owner retired despite many fans who wanted him to relocate. Recently a friend mentioned that Pho Hanoi had reopened three months ago. I hustled over there last week to check it out. Pho Ha Noi is located at the very back of the Vietnam Town development. When you turn into the shopping center, a myriad of signs and arrows point the way. The directions are necessary because another restaurant, Pho Co, in the front facing Story Road has "Pho Ha Noi" on its own signage.
But don't be fooled, this is what the entrance looks like. The amiable lady wielding the tablet who took my order turned out to be the owner. I asked her if this was the same Pho Ha Noi that had closed. She explained that its former owner came out of retirement to work here for two months to teach how to make his recipes.
#10 Pho Bo Dac Biet, $11.25, only comes in the one size, whereas other combinations are available in "regular" and "large". This included rare flank steak, well-done brisket, tendon and bible tripe. I ordered it with fresh rice noodles, steamed bean sprouts, and steak on the side ($1.50 charge). The broth's light in color, absolutely greaseless and beefy without any sweet spice, MSG nor sugar. All the meats were excellent in quality, and I especially liked the firm-ish, thick pieces of tendon.
The raw steak stayed quite tender even after cooking to pink in the hot stock. The pho bac style includes grated fresh ginger root. I liked this tenderized steak so much, I will probably order the Pho Tai Dap that has this as the single meat next time. Herb plate was dewy fresh and included sawtooth herb, spicy basil, jalapeños, lime and steamed sprouts.
Though I was eating alone, I wanted to try another specialty of the house, Nem Cuo Be, $11.50, crab rolls with vermicelli and lettuces. These were fried beautifully to bubbled, crackly, greaseless perfection. The fresh herbs included perilla, mint, cilantro and basil, along with green leaf lettuce. The dipping sauce was a tad on the sweet side for me but had a nice spicy kick and I liked the shaved slices of carrot and daikon. When the proprietress checked on me, she tut-tutted that I had ordered too much. She advised finishing my pho, since it would not be good for a leftover, and taking the remainder of the crab rolls home.
I did ask whether the pho ga with intestines included young eggs as well. She said that it does not, that she has not been able to find a supplier.
The place was quite busy. I got there when it opened for dinner at 5pm and it was nearly full by the time I left. Please do comment here if you try it. I did not ever eat at the original Pho Ha Noi, but this seems to be the real deal. I hope we hear from some veterans of the old place.
Phở Hà Nội
969 Story Rd #6048
San Jose, CA 95122
Phone: (408) 239-0888
Credit cards accepted
Liquor license is pending