Eat This

At Vietnam in East Dallas, a Brief Lesson in How to Make Pho That Doesn't Suck

Vietnam in East Dallas is the quintessential hole-in-the-wall spot that serves up amazing, traditional pho. And when Chef Matt McCallister mentioned this 16-year-old eatery as one of his favorites in a recent interview, it was time to revisit.

The particular pho in the photo above is No. 79 from Vietnam's lengthy menu, the thin-eye round beef brisket. When I visited recently, I was feeling more determined than hungry and gave a solid shot at finishing the entire bowl. It didn't happen, but my attempt still left me pretty much miserable for the next four hours. It was glorious.

Micheal Nguyen, whose family owns Vietnam, shared a couple of his secrets with me.

"It's all about the beef bones for the broth and time," he said. "It's a 24-hour cycle and there are no short cuts. If you get pho somewhere and it tastes crazy, it's because there are a lot of additives, because they didn't do it right and let it cook long enough. Here we start a day ahead and that's what makes it great."

While the broth is the heart of pho, the plate of fresh cilantro, Thai basil, jalapeños, bean sprouts and lime wedges are earthy and sensuous, and it all comes in at $9.20, for the bowl and tea. The lunch buffet full of other traditional Vietnamese dishes is also a great deal.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.