I'll write more later, but - last week, there was exilekisses' post on Pho Minh:
After I wrote it up for Chow Digest last week, I started going a little nuts with craving. Had never heard of Pho Minh before, but all the stars seemed to be aligning, and it seemed exactly like the object of my years of fruitless searching - a pure, beef-energetic, unmasked experience of screaming cow. No masking flavors, no over-hits of clove or MSG or sweetness to cover rankness - just pure beef tang. My perfection is Pho Y in San Jose, and none of the 40-or-so beef pho places I've tried - throughout the Gaberhood and Chinatown and throughout Little Saigon - came close. I called my girlfriend - re-arranged my schedule, everything to get out there before the early closing time. But the whole time - I was gripped by the knowing sorrow - that so many times I have ventured forth in search of the One True Pho, and so many times I have ended in over-spiced, beef-deadened sorrow.
But Pho Minh is it.
I have to say it again: Pho Minh IS IT.
Pho Minh is the best pho I've had in southern california.
The #1 and the #2 are completely different broths.
#2 - Pho Dac Biet - is light, clean, lightly minerally, tangy - pho as the morning light. #1 - Dac Biet Pho Bac - is dark, mysterious - pho broth as the deep ocean night. Brown, sweet, possibly still mooing a little at the bottom of the bowl.
Pennywort tea is also super - and very charmingly grassy.
Uh, I can't say more. Pho Minh IS THE IT OF ALL ITS.
It is the pure, flying essence of beef tang
Also, I chatted up the owner, and he seemed worried - buried as it is in the back of a strip mall, nobody seems to know about it. The place was empty when I was there. We need to give this place some business and keep it alive, or I will cry a thousand tears, and the tears WILL NOT TASTE ENOUGH LIKE BEEF BROTH.
(Amusingly, he asked where I'd heard of the place. I said, "I read about it on the Internet." He looked at me, puzzled for a moment, then said, "Oh, so a friend told you?" "Yeah," I said. "A friend told me.")
Thanks, Erik M and exilekiss and others, for this find.
Happy I am.