Pho, you ask? What is Pho?
Pho is a Vietnamese beef and noodle soup that is served with white rice noodles, bean sprouts, peppers, lime wedges, green onions, and basil or some other herb such as culantro aka ngò gai. I had heard rave reviews about Pho (pronounced fuh kinda like huh) and finally had to check it out myself. A new Pho restaurant opened up just down the street from me, and so Stephen and I decided to try it out today. My friend, Mama Foodie, gave it rave reviews. Go check out her post! It, too, is very informative with much more enticing pictures.
I named this post Pho 101 because I think you need to be informed on not only what Pho is but how to eat it!
First, Order something simple the first time. I ordered Pho Tai, translation: Rice Noodle Soup with Steak.
Second, Don’t freak out! Why, you may be wondering…because you are going to get paper-thin slices of RAW beef on your plate! I freaked because I don’t do raw, undercooked meat in any shape or form. Well-done please!!!! But the soup is HOT and the beef is paper-thin, hence the soup will cook the beef.
Third, There is an order to things and while you may prefer something different, you just have to find out through trial and error. I suggest you put your meat in first and stuff it down to the bottom, followed by the herbs. I wanted my ngò gai (don’t ask me how to pronounce this) wilted so stuff that deep down too. Followed by the noodles and then the sprouts. I like my sprouts a little crunchy so I didn’t add them all at once. Just a little at a time throughout the meal so that I could savor the crunchiness longer. I added in a squeeze of the lime wedge and plopped in one pepper ring. I think this was jalapeno but Mama Foodie referred to it as a chili pepper and really it could be one in the same or either so don’t quote me.
Fourth, try the sauce on the side. I think this was a hoisin sauce but I’m not sure. It’s a secret to me so let’s just refer to it as secret sauce for now. Try it, I bet you’ll like it. I don’t really know how this is supposed to be incorporated into the meal. Get adventurous! I googled how to eat Pho soup and found a discussion where some people don’t eat the sauce at all and other dump it in to the soup. Me? I dipped my chopsticks in the sauce and then proceeded to dip my ‘sticks into the soup and grab some noodles. This worked out nicely for me and probably put me at a caloric advantage. One of the many trade secrets you learn if you’ve ever done Weight Watchers.
Fifth, DO NOT EAT the pepper ring unless you want your mouth to be on FIRE. And when I say FIRE I mean FIYAH!!!! These little bad boys are meant to flavor your soup but not necessarily be consumed. They’re sliced with seeds and all and let’s just say I had a very, and I mean very mouth-watering experience. I felt like Mrs. White in the movie Clue with Flames, flames on the side of my face!
So there you have it! Your (and my) first instructional blog on how to eat and enjoy Pho ! If you live in the area I recommend Pho Hieu. I’m looking forward to going back for more cha giò (Vietnamese Egg roll) and I’d like to try their Vietnamese coffee. Maybe for lunch sometime!