7.245 Pho Bo

7.245

6 (Tue) September 2016

Pho Bo

3.5

at Pho Co Gia Truc Bach

-Hanoi-

solo

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Accommodations at the Sofitel …
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… overlooking Truc Bach Lake.

Mission to Viet Nam : Day 1.

In Hanoi.  Here to attend a conference on ageing.  Arrived this morning.  Flying back to Manila on Friday.

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Home is a Vietnamese-ish restaurant. Set in what was once presumably a colonial mansion.
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As would be intimated by the Eurocentric shabby chic …

When I requested a restaurant recommendation from the hotel concierge, the answer was immediately, enthusiastically : Home.   TripAdvisor confirmed with a #4 ranking of restaurants in Hanoi.

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… the menu was thoroughly fusion.  

The food was mediocre across the board.  Obviously attempting sophistication, or at least what a foreigner may consider to be sophisticated — I was the only non-white customer in a packed house — but succeeding only in affectation.  Tepid, banal flavors, lacking any identity, traditional or reinvented.  Fusion at its typical worst.

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Truc Bach Beer. Very cool to have a local-local brew, though presumably it wasn’t brewed with water from the lake.
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Sweet and Sour Beef with Local Herbs and Kumquat Juice (2.25)
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Steamed Prawn with Hot Rock and Lemongrass (1.5)
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Stir-Fried Soft-Shell Crab in Tamarind Sauce (2.0)

Fortunately, on the walk back to the hotel, I happened upon a street-side pho joint.  Even if I hadn’t been thoroughly unsatisfied by dinner, I would’ve dropped in anyway.

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The real deal.  
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At 33,000 VND per bowl (about $1.50), nearly 1/10 the price of a dish from Home, yet 10 times better.
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The mise-en-place.
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In addition to the mise-en-place, the kitchen simply comprised a couple baskets of pre-cooked noodles, a pot of simmering broth, a hanging chunk of beef.
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Good to go.

The pho was awesome.  Contrary to what I’d read about northern pho (see generally 3.272 Pho Ga), the toppings were very busy — heavy on the scallion — and the broth was very beefy.  But the melange of different veg added a bright complexity to the richness of the broth.  Wide noodles in the northern style providing a satisfyingly full mouthfeel in every bite.  My first pho at the source (not counting the airport), living up to the high expectation.

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Made me feel right at home.
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Beautiful.

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