This little Vietnamese joint is a fantastic one, leaving us three content. Among the three appetizers we got, the cha gio (fried pork spring roll, $3, above) was tiny, tasty, but run-of-mill. The canh ga chien nuoc mam (chicken wings in fish sauce, $3.50, below) was sweet, and thoroughly marinated–worth ordering.
But the piece de resistance was so huyet xao toi (cockles $6.50, below). It came in a sugared, spicy sauce which had permeated the shells to the cockles. While I loved sucking cockles, what was really fantastic about this was the lard. As I slowly masticated, the juices of the lard squirted and mingled with the sweet-spicy sauce, its umami filling my orifice. You complete me, Lard. You touched my soul, which I discovered was at the back of my throat–and I teared. Ask Huccalyly and Pierre, they saw my tears.
For the mains, the excellent pho bo dac biet (mixed beef pho, $8.90, below) had a clean, robust, and well-rounded broth, with medium-rare beef that I liked. The pho ga (chicken pho $7.90) was lighter, not a bad thing if you prefer light broths.
Mrs Pho also has several homemade drinks. The coffee ($3) was superb, exclaimed Huccalyly: bold, strong, and nutty, like how she liked her men. Pierre liked his salty homemade lemonade ($2), and my homemade yogurt drink ($2) was catered to masses, not too thick, not too thin, not too sweet, not too sour, nicely balanced.
The icing on the cake: gorgeous decor, and a more gorgeous female server (owner?), like supermodel gorgeous. But the joint may be too authentic that servers don’t speak English, and can speak only a spattering of Mandarin. Still, there is minimum contact. You tick the order chit yourself. We paid $48 for three persons – the best $16 I have spent recently. It’s sincere little joints like these that restore my faith in the F&B industry.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.