7.245 Pho Bo


6 (Tue) September 2016

Pho Bo


at Pho Co Gia Truc Bach



Accommodations at the Sofitel …
… 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.

Home is a Vietnamese-ish restaurant. Set in what was once presumably a colonial mansion.
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.

… 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.

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

The real deal.  
At 33,000 VND per bowl (about $1.50), nearly 1/10 the price of a dish from Home, yet 10 times better.
The mise-en-place.
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.
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.

Made me feel right at home.

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