SF Foodbuzz Food Bloggers Fest – Turtle Tower (lunch on Friday)
During dinner with my cousin & his wife, I mentioned that I was open for suggestions as to what to eat the next day. My cousin’s wife told me about Turtle Tower and northern style pho, which apparently is markedly different from southern style pho and much more rare. She said that it didn’t contain star anise, and the resulting broth was incredibly clean, simple, and amazing. Of course I had to hit up the place and see what was what!
Amusingly, the place was packed when I first entered, but I was told to head out of the restaurant and walk down the alleyway to another room, where I was seated immediately. The restaurant is apparently split in the middle by the kitchen, hmmm.
A shot of the menu explaining that this is Ha Noi style Vietnamese cuisine – freshly prepared rice noodles, soup without bean sprouts, basil or hoisin sauce, allowing the broth to shine on its own. Hmmm, interesting. I ordered the pho tai, since I semi-recognized the name from my own visits to various Vietnamese restaurants. Standard pho, sort of, just with different broth, is what I was expecting.
This is what I received – with a simple dish of jalapenos (ignored by me) and a wedge of lime.
And the noodles were roughly cut, but super slippery… and fresh? The broth did have a super clean taste to it, clear and almost sweet, though I felt the pho I’m used to has more depth to the flavor. I wasn’t too much of a fan of the beef, since it was weird and almost shredded and balled up, not rare at all. I added the lime for a good acidic touch to the whole thing, and I really had to stop myself from eating it all, since I knew I was going for ice cream afterwards, and if I ate it all, I would seriously, seriously regret it. I enjoyed my bowl tremendously though.
Yvo says: If Turtle Tower were in NYC, I could definitely see this becoming one of my go-to spots for pho, especially since it’s similar but still just that itty-bitty different – and delicious. I definitely enjoyed trying a different style of pho, and I really liked the flavor, though I believe my personal preference is still southern style – perhaps because that’s what I am accustomed to.