It’s almost like a ritual with me and my friends – on Saturdays we go for Pho (pronounced “fuh” /fə/ or /fʌ/). We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. Having a bowl of Pho with friends and family is a great way to unwind after a long hard week. On today’s Pho outing, Paul Mudhar and his dad, my retired friend Wolf, and hoping to retire friend Greg joined Sarah and me. Our restaurant of choice for our weekly Pho get-together is Pho Lan on No. 3 Road and Granville Avenue in Richmond.
A long time ago, I was told that Pho means you’ll get a delicious wholesome meal in a bowl at a reason price. I would have to agree with that assessment. Pho is the perfect comfort food. Now a first timer may have trouble believing that when they see some of the meats the can go into a bowl of Pho. However, if he or she sticks with the “safe” ingredients, there shouldn’t be any vomiting.
The above is a typical bowl of Pho – it’s #11 on the menu – rare steak, well done flank and beef tendon. It’s not really recommended for the first time Pho goer because the tendon tends to scare people. Pho is best served steaming hot. You need this in order to cook the rare steak, which is really raw. If you don’t see steam coming off the soup base, send it back.
To enhance the taste of Pho, garnishes like lime, basil leaves, hot peppers and bean sprouts are included. There are also hot sauce, chilly oil and hoisin sauce to create an exotic flavor.
One of the reason we like going to Pho Lan so much is Lan still serve Pho in the large 12″ bowl. Most Pho shops has gotten rid of the large and only offer small and medium. In Paul’s case, the large wasn’t large enough. He also ordered up extra steak and beef balls with his #10. I’m amazed he finished it.
While Lan is best known for Pho, he also offers other Vietnamese dishes like #33. This is another favorite dish for those times when we don’t feel like a bowl of Pho. #33 is vermicelli with spring roll, beef and chicken. Fish sauce is used to enhance the taste.
If noodles are not your thing, then the #24 BBQ pork chop with lemon grass on rice just may fill the bill. Again, fish sauce is use to bring out the flavor of the dish.
To have a complete Pho experience, you should always order a Vietnamese iced coffee with your food. I’m not a coffee drinker but I love Vietnamese iced coffee. The stuff is so strong, you’ll be jazzed for a week.