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Where To Find The Best Pho In Any City

Updated on February 24, 2014
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You’ve probably already heard of pho. If you haven’t, though, it’s a Vietnamese noodle soup that’s become quite the rage in a lot of urban areas, and is pronounced fa. Every soup’s base is the same, noodles in a beef broth, but you can choose different meats and types of vegetables to put in the soup as well as add other condiments like bean sprouts, lime, basil, and peppers. These condiments come on a tray that the entire tables shares, and are included in the meal.

When it comes to meat choices, you’ll almost always be choosing from something that’s rare, and not well cooked. Don’t worry about that. The meat will cook quickly in the hot broth, and by the time you eat it you most likely won’t be able to tell that it was rare when added to the soup. Meatballs are one of the most popular choices, and are oblong, flat slices of meat, almost like meat loaf but thinner and less prone to falling apart. Personally, I prefer steak or marinated steak, or a vegetarian soup.

Whatever type of pho you choose, you’ll get a different experience depending on how good the restaurant you go to is. The right pho restaurant will give you a fabulous, cheap meal. If you pick the wrong restaurant you can end up with tasteless broth, overcooked noodles, or poor quality meat. In a little diversion from my normal work and travel hubs, I’m going to talk a little bit about where to find the best pho, regardless of what city you live in.

The good news is that knowing where to find the best pho in any city isn’t hard—usually. Every now and again you end up in a city that doesn’t actually have any good pho restaurants, but let’s hope you don’t live in one of those.

I learned where to find the best pho from my Vietnamese friend, and her advice was simple: go where the Vietnamese are. Duh, right? The Vietnamese section of town, if you have one, is where you’re going to find the best pho restaurants. In my experience, though, anywhere with a strong Asian culture influence will probably work just fine.

In Honolulu, that’s just about everywhere. In Denver, it’s in a slightly shady area southwest of town. In Florida, it seems it’s difficult to find. If you’re hoping to find the Vietnamese or Asian area of your city, try doing an internet search for ethnic or Asian grocery stores. If there’s a grocery store near a pho restaurant, try that, or if there’s a cluster of grocery stores that’s probably the area you want to check out. You can also look into Chinese New Year celebrations. If any of those are held in your city, that’s probably the area of town that will have the best pho.

Once you find that area, don’t be afraid to go into a little, off-to-the-side restaurant, either. Sometimes hole-in-the-wall shops can be a little nerve-wracking, but when it comes to ethnic foods like pho, sometimes the smaller, family-owned restaurants are the best. It’s still a bit of a risk, though, so if the restaurant is completely empty at 10am, noon, or 6pm you might want to try somewhere else.

If that doesn’t work, ask around. Someone might know of an Asian area of town, or your coworker may have tried out a few restaurants, and will know where to find the best pho. Every now and again you’ll get lucky and find a pho place right next to Target or off the highway. If you’re lucky enough to have a Vietnamese or Asian friend, or just a food connoisseur, go to them. They’ll be able to help you find the best spot in town.

In general, those are your two best options on where to find the best pho: the ethnic part of town, or friends who’ve been there and tried that pho restaurant. I hope you give it a try, too. Pho, when done right, is absolutely delicious.

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