Pho Your Eyes Only: A Sweltering Autumn Vietnamese Feast

Img_9050According to my car’s thermometer, it hit 88 degrees fahrenheit here in Southern California over the weekend. My wife hit the farmer’s market before it all (and we) wilted. She came home swearing no cooking was to happen as long as the sun was up. And then she had the brilliant idea to order some Pho for the whole family. Pho, that deeply flavored Vietnamese noodle soup, might seem counterintuitive at first on a hot day, but keep in mind it comes from a country that knows a thing or two about keeping cool by eating hot. Which is what we did. I called in an order to a nearby Pho 2000 (a micro chain of Pho restaurants in Los Angeles).

If the idea of a micro chain deters you, be detered no more by this bit from the mission statement printed on the back of the takeout menu: “Quality ingredients such as shane bone, oxtail, brisket, flanky, eye round, steak, tendon and book tripe… are essential for preparing an authentic bowl of Vietnamese Pho.”

We sat out on the back patio at the kids table on little plastic chairs, as one might on the streets of Saigon and slurped our way through the soup, quickly sweating, thus cooling. It was an ideal feast to savor al fresco, to remind us that summer is certainly not thoroughly over, and with which to appreciate the feast that is ethnic Los Angeles dining.

Here’s what we got:

Me: #1 House Special
Meat Ball, Rare Steak, Brisket, Tendon, Tripe, Onion, Cilantro, Green Onion (It’s in the picture, and, admittedly, our pasta bowls were waaaay too small to accomodate all the noodles, herbs, sprouts, and broth. In its ideal form the broth drowns all the aforementioned ingredients. Still, it was awesome)

Aimee: #3: Little Tai “Pho Tai”
Rare Steak, Cilantro, onion, Green Onion

The Kids: #7 Plain Noodle & Soup
Noodle in Soup, Cilantro, Green Onion, Onion

And, man, we went to town. We finished up. Then we hosed off the back patio and took a collective family nap in the midday heat.

P.S.: Desi, the tough critic, loved the spring rolls dipped in funky fermented fish sauce.

—Hugh

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