It's just this little chromium switch, here... (derspatchel) wrote,
It's just this little chromium switch, here...


I have never had a bad bowl of pho. I came close once, though. It was in a joint on Kneeland Street whose name I've never bothered to remember; it had a menu out front that said "Pho" and a European interior which was obviously inherited. The beef soup was amazingly greasy and coated my lips with a thin layer o' the sheen. Lip-smacking is one thing, constant lip-licking to the point of obsessiveness is another. I was the only one in the place at 7:00 on a weeknight, and my eating was constantly monitored by a fellow behind the bar and a half-hidden waitress who watched me like a hawk yet who came out only after I had shifted my empty water glass all the way around the table from the 12 o'clock position to the 5.

Even so, it wasn't bad, just disappointing. I ate the entire bowl and left the customary 20% tip, but I wouldn't go back there again.

The best pho is at Pho Vietnam on the corner of Kneeland/Stuart and Washington. There's a wonderful spice to the stock and when the beef bits are cooked in the soup, they turn out very flavorful. Pho Pasteur, the old stalwart (with a rival location on Washington) has never gotten its beef as tasty as Pho Vietnam has. Pho Pasteur keeps its sauces in a little tri-dish thingummy and often there are not enough thingummys for each table. Raiding the other table's thingummy is a common occurrence at Pho Pasteur. At Pho Vietnam, however, every table has a lazy susan containing large squeeze bottles of each sauce, plum and hot, along with chopsticks and spoons. I am sure the open-air presentation of the eating utensils has twinged many a germophobe. I don't mind cause I check.

The only fault I can find with Pho Vietnam is that their noodles swell up a bit too much when steeped in the soup for long. It's like an alarm, a Pointed Note to stop dicking around with your appetizer and finish your goddamn soup. Still, I don't mind too much. The last spoonfuls are still incredibly flavorful and delicious (and increasingly hotter as you pick up bits of the hot stuff from the bottom of the bowl) and I love walking back up Washington Street all happy and full of pho. In a younger mind I would have written "phull" but I think I'm past all that now.

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