Wednesday, April 11, 2012
What the Pho?
Why pho is a great dish is because it's like a build it yourself dish. It comes with your broth, noodles, meat, cilantro (I eat mine without) and onions. On another plate that's brought separately, they pile on fresh basil, fresh chopped jalapenos, white onions and limes. My hook up? I put in extra white onion, basil, jalapenos and multiple lime squeezes. It's just such a refreshing combo. In this picture above, you see the rare beef pho, often known as "#11" on most menus. It's deli sliced thin beef that pretty much cooks itself in the hot broth as it's served. I have other friends that also squeeze in hot sauce or oyster sauce. I choose the extra lime juice.
During the colder months, I find myself eating a whole lot of pho. In the summer, especially in Las Vegas, it's just too darn hot sometimes. Pho comes out with piping hot soup broth so your entire body is pretty warmed up by the time you're done eating. Couple that with stepping out into 100-plus degree heat and you may find yourself needing a coolant. While we're heading into the summer months, it's still pho time for at least another few weeks.
Pho is so well liked that you'll find a variety of people dining in pho joints. In Vegas especially, it's like a late night hangout where friends conglomerate after a night of gaming, clubbing and bar hopping. I have two pho restaurants that I frequent the most. The first one is Pho So 1 which is on Spring Mountain (the road that sits on the side of Treasure Island) and Decatur. It's open until 3 am. While they serve complimentary hot tea, you may have to ask for it. They used to automatically bring it to your table but in recent times they'll bring ice water and you can simply request the tea at no charge. This one is a no frills but always consistently great dining experience.
The other pho place I visit is Pho Kim Long which is also on Spring Mountain but if you are coming from the Strip, you will see this one first before you reach Pho So 1. Pho Kim Long sits in a pagoda style strip mall just a few blocks from the Strip. This restaurant's decorations are much fancier than Pho So 1 and they have a more expansive menu that includes many Chinese dishes as well. A giant fish tank as you enter, this 24-hour joint's more elaborately decorated inside means that the prices are $2 more than it's competitor down the street. However, both places - great pho!
What makes me choose one over another? Sometimes it's who I am dining with and sometimes it's just what I'm feeling at the moment. One thing's for sure though, it's not because one pho is better than the other. I love them both.