Best pho (2000)

Pho Saigon

Pho is a little like Buddha: It invites nourishing contemplation. A Vietnamese beef-broth soup, pho is often described as the national dish of Vietnam. It's a fundamental part of the day, a mind-clearing tonic steeped in ritual, often served for breakfast. It's an arduous, labor-intensive thing created by simmering meat and bones for roughly eight hours to extract that soothing richness. To this are added long rice noodle strands, meat, scallions, and herbs. It's often floated with cuts of beef such as brisket, eye of round, and flank steak, as well as meatballs. But there's more yummy stuff to toss in. You can add gelatinous and chewy soft tendon (not so much a cabled ligament as a piece of knuckle) or bible tripe, a piece of ox stomach. The wide, steaming bowl arrives with a plate piled with knots of bean sprouts, Asian basil, a lime wedge, and tiny slices of green chilies that look like mag wheels, all for tossing into the soup. Pho Kim's pho is delicious: freshly light and perfumy with tender, separate noodles and chewy sheets of beef. There's nothing better to endulge in as the briskness of fall sneaks upon us.


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