[Pigging by Wilfrid: December 19, 2016]
When the Arctic freeze settles in and iced water is seeping through your snow boots, is as good a day as any to introduce your child to a steaming hot bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup. And tell her to say phở. As in "fu..."
I am sure the internet swarms with connoisseurs of (what is more easily typed as) pho. I don't purport to be one of them. I find that An Choi on Orchard Street does a decent version, and I like the crispy bread used for bành mí too.
Circular pastries, these; nice and puffy, and filled with spiced pork. Good to dip in hoisin sauce. (I also managed to get fish sauce on my fingers, which I don't recommend.)
For the pho, start simple was my idea. The basic, also described on the menu as beef noodle soup, features brisket and visibly rare flank, along with rice noodles I thought were a little soggy (authentic? probably), and lots of powerfully flavored sawtooth herb.
It came with a plate of more herbs, limes and bean sprouts for garnish. You can add oxtail, onions, crullers and so on (all extra price).
Given that we've both eaten plenty of banh mi, I chose an exotic option: the banh mi "French dip." Hoisin sauce sweetens the generous amount of beef in the sandwich; some peppers add spice. The au jus is piping hot, and offers the pleasant experience of turning a crisp roll soft, instantly.
All good enough. Surroundings are basic. Sandwiches and soups cost $9 to $15. Here's the website.