A couple months ago, I pulled into town on a Sunday afternoon starved. I wanted Japanese noodles, but the first two Japanese noodle houses I stopped at were closed. I was about to get in my car and look for another when I saw this huge sign in front of me saying "Convoy Pho House." I took that as an omen and went in. Within five minutes I was seated, I ordered, and I had a large steaming bowl of Beef Pho plus a plate of bean sprouts, fresh basil, lime wedges, and jalapenos sitting in front of me. It was very good.
Believe it or not, Id never had pho before. Although one Monterey area restaurant was run by Vietnamese and did have "beef noodles soup" on its menu, Id never tried it. It sounded way too ordinary, so I always had a sour catfish or sour shrimp soup, or one of their other noodle soups when I ate there. Otherwise, Id never lived anywhere where pho was available before I moved to San Diego, and by then I was obsessed with Korean food and sushi and Thai food and really didnt eat too much Vietnamese. Since my experience at the Convoy Pho House, Ive eaten there again and tried pho at the Saigon (on El Cajon (I think)) and at Phuong Trang on Convoy. Each time it has been good, but each time it has been very similar. Saigons price was a little lower, the noodles may be slightly more toothsome at Convoy Pho House, and I like the way they cut the beef tendon and the tripe best at Phuong Trang. Still, it was very hard to spot any major differences. Is this generally the case with pho? Is all pho pretty much the same? Is there a pho house that is the best in town? An inquiring mind wants to know.