Morning Pho

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We wake up in the morning and desire a meal. Breakfast or brunch, that is your decision to make (especially contingent upon the previous night’s activities). The cure-all for non-vegetarians looking for a different side of the bed to roll out of and into a comfortable place for your tummy is definitely Morning Pho.

Growing up in a Chinese-Vietnamese environment, I always had pho (Southern style) to eat for breakfast. Of course that tradition continues today as my wife and I have carried our love of pho (Turtle Tower in the TL) into our weekly lives. We continue to search for the great balance of flavor, hot and steamy broth, chewy noodles, fresh mint and bean sprouts to match our uber bowl of contentment.

The incredible compliment of textures involved in a bowl of pho has always been the driving force behind this simple, yet dynamic and intense creation rich in Vietnamese, Chinese, and French influence.

As PhoFever points out:

“Rice noodle and spices were imported from China; the French popularized the eating of red meat. In fact, it is believed that “phở” is derived from “pot au feu” a French soup. Vietnamese cooks blended the Chinese, French and native influences to make a dish that is uniquely Vietnamese.”

No matter where your locally pho joint happens to be, always keep in mind that the best time to have pho is the morning. Why? The entire presentation is very fresh during this time. And before the day gets too long, the broth, which is a key component remains light (in taste and color). As I have experienced personally, the darker the day grows, the darker the broth becomes. Presumably, the meat (beef or chicken) generally stays the same all day since they refrigerate, but less of it will be available at night (including tripe and tendons). Even as friends have enjoyed their bowls, I will inevitably notice sparing morsels of meat added toward the end of the evening.

Here’s a quick guide to eating (Southern style):
1) pick the smaller mint leafs to add to broth (add jalapeno slices for flavor and spice).
2) include a handful of bean sprouts
3) “flip the meat” and bury it down beneath the noodles to cook (for the rare flank steak orders).
4) add Sriracha for extra kick!

This set of directions is not part a Pho Canon of eating and should be modified to every individual’s habits. But with Pho Tai Nam, Dac Biet, Bo Vien…all of these will usually have some rareness to their meat…so “flip the meat” is important.

And where would I be without mentioning some of the Bay Area’s finest establishments for this meal. Except Turtle Tower, all of the restaurants listed below will serve Southern style pho. So get pho’d up and enjoy it in the morning with an ice coffee!

SF: Kim Son, Pho Huynh Hiep 2 (aka Kevin’s), PPQ (great for Chicken Curry Noodle too), Turtle Tower (Northern Style, simply the best here), Yummy Yummy
Oakland: Pho Ao Sen

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