We’ve tried a lot of pho in our day. We’ve slurped a lot of broth and noodles and eaten a lot of pink-in-the-middle beef. We’ve even learned to pronounce it “phuh” and not “phoe”. But nothing prepared us for the incredible, puts-the-rest-to-shame bowl of pho at Pho Bac 97.
We ordered the spring rolls (fresh, rice-paper rolls filled with noodles, herbs, and shrimp served with peanut dipping sauce) and the Tai, Nam, Gau, Gan, Ve, Sach pho (#5, if you don’t feel like saying that little tongue twister).
While contently nibbling on spring rolls and sipping tea, the waiter set down a gorgeous platter of sprouts, fresh basil, a pair of chillies, and lime wedges. Something excellent was about to happen. Within 10 minutes of ordering, a steaming bowl of pho was set before us.
In the shimmering broth were pieces of tender pink beef, cooking slowly before our eyes, thin slices of tripe, soft tendon, well-done beef, and a metric fuckton of noodles. The broth, a savoury, decidedly beefy, perfect soup base. Drinking it plain would be a non-issue. It’s really that good.
We then went to work garnishing the absolute shit out of it with the basil, sprouts, lime, and chillies. The soft tendon was a bit daunting– would it be excessively chewy and weird? No, no it wouldn’t. It was silky and tender, and extremely flavourful.
Each bite can be different– a little basil, a little beef, and a dot or two of sriracha in the first bite, and then maybe one with some tripe and hoisin sauce. Then maybe a spoonful of plain broth and some noodles. Then back in for some soft tendon and a little piece of chilli and a few extra drops of lime. Not gonna lie, we had maybe a little too much fun with it.
Food porn rating: gratuitous and drool-worthy.
Afterglow: full and happy.
Bottom line: if you have $7.50 and an empty stomach, go to Pho Bac 97. DO IT.