Xe Lua - 212 577 8887 at 86 Mulberry, between Canal and Bayard. It's at the most 2 years old. Never went in there in the past. Tonight I walked in and got myself a bowl of pho (Beef Eye Round medium rare, brisket, tendo & tripe noodle soup - $5. The clam in House Special sauce (tomato, pineapple bits, garlic, too sweet for me) as appetizer wasn't that great, so i was worried. When the pho came though, it looked pristine. Broth by itself was very pure tasting. I drank a few spoon full before adding some lime juice and later, half way through the bowl i added a little hot sauce. The basil, bean sprouts, jalapeno slices were all fresh and clean. The brisket and tendon were very flavorful. eye rounds weren't as tender except for the first few pieces that were a nice pink medium rare. The tripe was a bit too hard, not crunchy enough. ...But all are sliced and prepared meticulously. There wasn't the usual over dose of noodles, and by contrast there were a generous amount of the meat.
I wondered if the chef who prepared the broth was out of the French cooking school. Despite having eaten just not long ago, I could not leave a drop of the soup. This is probably my first "bottoms up" bowl of pho. At the end, I realized, at least to me, that the mark of a great broth is when it taste good hot as well as cold. The underlying sweetness is so well balanced that if refreshes and warms at the same time.