Pho Goodness Sake!

I have so many thoughts running through my head lately, that it seems like they are getting jammed in the doorway and none of them are making it to my blog. Whoops. But here’s one that has been on my mind:

I really, really love Pho. It’s got all of the key components: Beef, noodles, thai basil, cilantro, onions, jalapenos, lime (sometimes lemon) and chili paste. The first time I tried it, I was in awe; it was as if someone put my favorite flavors from various cuisines all into one steaming bowl of goodness.

One thing everyone needs to know is that I am an eater. I wish I could be one of those girls with the bird-like appetites, but I am not. When I am hungry and I set out to eat, I am going to really chow down. I eat more than many men that I know. When I used to run regularly, part of my motivation in running was just so that I could work up an appetite to eat even more. I try to reign in my appetite more these days since I am getting older and I am not as active as I used to be, but just know that when I eat, I mean business.

So back to Pho and it being one of my favorite things. Just the other evening I met someone who was visiting Orange County from New York, and he wanted to know what good food he should try. Now, there are a few decent restaurants in Fullerton, but if a New Yorker wants something that he couldn’t get out there, it’s Pho all the way.

One of the great things about it is that Pho is really hard to mess up. To me, as long as the broth is hot and just a little beefy and aromatic, and you give me plenty of the fixin’s, it’s then all on me to mix and balance the ingredients to my liking. Because of this, I often don’t understand why people on Yelp give low scores to Pho places– usually the low scores are about the service or the Spring Rolls, but when I go, I don’t care if the person is rude or doesn’t speak English or what the Spring Rolls are like; I will point to the number with the bowl of rare steak and then happily slurp it up.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered a place with bad Pho. I didn’t think it was possible. I used to love the place; they were unique and added the slightest hint of lemongrass to the broth which made it extra- excellent. But then they changed owners, and converted to a half Pho/ half Korean BBQ place. I love Korean BBQ, but to me that’s a different restaurant altogether. When I got my bowl, the broth was kind of oily and a bit salty. They didn’t have thai basil at all, and tried to make up for it with cilantro. Noo! I like cilantro, but there is a delicate balance. They had no limes either; I’m normally okay with substituting lemons, but this added to the disappointment. And worst of all, they only gave three scrawny slices of steak. I rarely frown at my food, but that night, I was frowning.

Like I said, it’s hard to mess up Pho, but when a person does, it is SO disappointing!

A much better place is Pho 88 on Lemon and Orangethorpe. There’s also a really nice one in Brea on Imperial by the Home Depot. I also hear that a new one on the South East corner of Chapman and State College, next to the 99 cent store, is good, but I have never tried it. I just might swing by there later this week to get my Pho fix.

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