I keep talking about Pho Bang but every time I’ve posted about it, I managed to have ordered the bun (cold vermicelli salad bowls). On this day, after visiting a sick relative at Elmhurst Hospital, FeistySis suggested Pho Bang and FeistyMom and I quickly agreed – it’s really very close by. FeistySis ordered the pho, and consented to let me photograph her bowl of 22 regular (pho tai), which is just pho with regular beef eye of round slices (the soup is so hot that if you plunge the thin slices into the broth, they cook immediately).
Quickly, before she noticed or could say anything, I grabbed her chopsticks and lifted the noodles to snap a photo. FeistySis doesn’t like people to touch her food. I don’t blame her one bit (I’m not really inclined towards that, either), but I really wanted this pic (sorry!). I love the depth of this broth; they serve so many bowls of this a day, they must have a giant pot of it just going constantly in the back, simmering away (and probably a reserve pot next to it, making the next batch or so). It has this intense flavor that can only be attained by long cooking times… mmm, so good. The noodles are cooked to just the right shade of done (though if you eat slowly, which I’ve discovered the hard way, they tend to continue to cook and absorb all the broth… which can be good or bad, depending on your taste preferences!). Topped with sliced onion, a bit of cilantro, just yum! They come with a big plate of raw bean sprouts, basil and lemon wedges for you to add to your bowl as you prefer. I like to just use the lemons.
On that occasion, being a rather warm day, I ordered the bun topped with beef wrapped around a chunk of onion. Yum. Adding the accompanying fish sauce for a kick of vinegar, pickled ramps, and mixing everything together – the bottom being shredded Romaine lettuce, carrots, and assorted veggies – makes this the perfect light dish for a hot summer day. I love this in the summer.
Unfortunately, less than 3 weeks later, the entire fam this time went to visit the same relative, this time at hospice. On our way home from the Bronx, a somber family decided to converge upon the same restaurant – FeistySis’s request – and it totally hit the spot, something comforting and soothing to consume on a rather discomfiting day. Though it wasn’t cold out, I ordered a big bowl of pho – 28 pho tai nam gam sach (pho with beef slices, brisket, omosa [some sort of intestine]) and added beef balls. I wanted something to get to that part of me that I couldn’t reach otherwise. It worked, temporarily. Though I forgot to pick off enough of the onion slices, and stank of onions afterwards, ergh. But again, perfectly comforting and that broth, so sweet, so savory, all at the same time. I even got extra lemon this time, as Snorlax told me he didn’t want his wedge, so I quickly commandeered it and added it, loving the acidic tang this added to my bowl. Love. Love this place! So good.
We ate in silence, finding comfort in just each other’s presence. As my bro pointed out, “How often do you get an opportunity to eat with your entire family?” (though Charlie Brown had only been the week before, there was another person there I didn’t mention, one of his friends). Who knew indeed.
Yvo says: Perhaps it’s because this is the first place I ever had Vietnamese food (around 15 years ago), or because I find myself returning here through the years, regardless of what in my life has changed, the food has never disappointed. I mean, for around $5 each bowl of food that totally stuffs me or sates me, depending on how hungry I am (or what size pho I order!), you can’t exactly go wrong, but I have yet to recall a time that I’ve ordered something that I didn’t like here. I don’t veer much from these two sections of the menu, but I honestly have never had a moment where I thought “Damn, I need a new pho place.” They are that good to me, delicious, yummy, and comforting… the perfect place on a hot summer day, or on a freezing winter day. Either way… they rock.