rice cake confessional

adventures in eating

having phở in hanoi

with 2 comments

hanoipho

Do you like how I whipped out the diacriticals and everything for the title? I like how the word looks with the fancy stuff on top of the ‘o’. It actually reminds me of steam coming off a piping hot bowl of phở. That makes me sound kinda crazy, doesn’t it?

I was in Hanoi this weekend to attend a wedding (Congrats Linh and Bryan!) and had a great time taking in some sights and eating plenty of good food. After taking care of some biznaz, Charif, Duong, and I were ready for lunch. After roaming around Hoàn Kiếm Lake for a bit we ended up at a phở place that Charif had tried the evening before.

hanoipho5

There are a jillion (trust me, I counted) of these street side eateries in Hanoi. Little alcoves and corners of food presided over by trusted aunties and uncles serving the masses.

hanoipho2

Next to the glass display case that served as the cash register was a giant, bubbling pot of beef broth. Yums.

hanoipho4

If you aren’t familiar with phở, let me break it down for you. A bowl of rice noodles with sometimes rare, thinly sliced beef (sometimes chicken) on top. A fragrant, clear beef broth spiked with spices (generally anise, Vietnamese cinnamon, cloves, etc) is poured on top. Add to that, a generous amount of green onion, white onion, and cilantro.

hanoipho3

We also shared an order of dry noodles. This time the same beef that’s in the soup is fried up and served over noodles and bean sprouts. Think of it as fried phở, kinda. The noodles were just ok for me – slightly sticky like regular rice noodles but with an off flavor that I couldn’t quite place. The beef was delicious though and the veggies are always a nice touch.

This phở was good but not the *best* bowl I’ve ever had (that award goes to the phở place on El Camino that looks like a minature Pea Soup Anderson’s). To me (and I’m not Vietnamese but I’m an eater so that’s gotta count for something) a good bowl is served SUPER hot, has a broth that is very clear, not too oily, and very fragrant, the cilantro should be bright green and plentiful, the noodles shouldn’t be too soft or too gummy, and the beef should be pink and very thinly sliced. The broth should be hot enough to cook the meat and there should be ample limes, bean sprouts, and jalapeno slices to throw in.

Anywho what made this meal memorable was the setting. How often do you eat freakin’ phở in freakin’ Vietnam! How cool is that? Mind you I was in work clothes perched precariously on an itty bitty stool that’s about a foot off the ground. Add to that the cute brown chihuahua puppy that was roaming the tables and the motorcycles whizzing by and you have an oft had lunch in a not-so-oft had setting.

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Written by joann

November 9, 2008 at 9:40 pm

Posted in travels, vietnamese

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Damn! Wish I could have gone too!

    nags

    November 9, 2008 at 9:44 pm

  2. you should come next time! oh yes, there will be a next time…

    no worries for you either bc there is plenty of chicken pho to be had as well!

    joann

    November 9, 2008 at 10:02 pm


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