Where do you find good pho, crappy pho in the Bay Area? Since we can’t be in Vietnam all the time, where’s the best pho? Little Saigon* you say? Not all of them can be winning. Let’s hear them all- northern, southern, beef, chicken, SF, International Blvd, Story Road…
*Or whatever people want to call it, but let’s not go there…
I will start. Pho Dong in Redwood City (on the same street as Kemuri and I Dumpling).
B15. Steak, Flank, Tendon, Trip and Fatty Flank Pho
B16. Brisket, Flank, Tendon, Tripe and Fatty Flank Pho
Surprisingly nice for the stretch of peninsula not exactly known for Vietnamese food. Noodle had springy texture, and was quite al dente for pho. No MSG in the broth that I can tell from the lack of massive water consumption afterwards. Good mix of fatty and tendon-y stuff. Its not going to win Best of the Bay awards but its closer to home than San Jose.
One complaint: the jalapeno was seriously weak. Threw the whole plate in there and its still barely hot.
Add $1.5 for extra noodle on the side. They divided their pho menu into 2 sections- first time enjoying pho (all the lean cuts), and those who want to enjoy traditional pho (the fatty and the innards)
That photo could be from a thousand different places but it specifically reminds of a place in Saigon that did a really awesome bahn mi op la and the overflow seating was against the wall on the left of the photo.
I like the branches of Pho Huynh Hiep (Kevin’s Noodle House). I pretty much only get pho tai.
Crappy, you say? That would be Pho Dong Huong on Monterey Blvd. in SF. They transformed from a truly wretched/actively gross dim sum place to a completely mediocre pho place. That’s an improvement, right? Their bowl of pho is quite bland.
I’ve never found anything here to rival Than Brothers in Seattle.
pho wasn’t a priority in the south bay, just looking for dishes missing in east bay:
Hue: 3005 silver creek (northern vietnamese cuisine)
-bun rieu (6.75)was a disappointment, little crab paste
-bu ho Hue((7.75) likewise a disapointment re no pork feet’s, rest of proteins present.
-Hit: Bao Xeo, 5/3.5, dishes of steamed rice flour with shrimp, other toppings on top., dip in fish saucee, yum!
Bo Quan Hue(1818 tully :“lions food court”)
-bu ho hue was good here, no tax, lots of food for reasonable prices
-bahn xeo mentioned by y, as great here, didn’t try
-10 vendors here, many specialiies, lots of seating
-ambience not restauraut quality, food is
Grand Century food court, story st,
-same kind of vendors, dollars higher, quality not the same.
I usually get my pho ga fix from Turtle Tower on Larkin St. in SF. I usually go there a few times a month and get the #9, which is the pho ga without giblets, usually in large size. I’m not a big fan of giblets. I have tried recently to branch out by trying Joy Hing BBQ Noodle’s pho ga in SF Chinatown a couple times.
Joy Hing’s version of pho ga (I got the #1, large) is somewhat similar to Turtle Tower’s style. Flat rice noodles, chicken, and cilantro, with the addition of sliced red onions. Both are served with sliced raw jalapenos and a wedge of lemon or lime. I liked Joy Hing’s pho ga. I felt it wasn’t quite as good as Turtle Tower’s though. Less noodles and less chicken, although the chicken was cooked well and was quite moist with skin on. I ran out of chicken quite a bit before finishing the noodles. Broth was similar, maybe an edge to Turtle Tower as Joy Hing’s was maybe a little thinner. Joy Hing’s version comes with a side of ginger scallion sauce which was good for dipping the chicken into.
Some other places in the city I’ve had pho ga are Tin on Howard Street, SF (not very good - overcooked chicken, all white meat I think) and Miss Saigon on 6th Street, SF (also overcooked chicken, weak broth).
Pho Avenue, Mountain View, across the street from Whole Foods on El Camino.
Pho Dac Biet. With beef balls, steak, flank, tendon, tripe, briskets. Should have remembered asking for the steak on the side as it got overcooked in the hot broth. A bottle of fish sauce was available in addition to the herbs, chili sauce, Sriracha, etc. Overall, the bowl was not bad. A bit ahead of Pho Vi Hoa at San Antonio. Broth had no MSG, and got some good flavor. The beef balls were ok but I’d prefer more tripes, and briskets.
Fresh squeezed OJ. I’m not sure why, but not complaining. Fresh squeezed is always awesome.
Not the best vegetarian spring rolls. The wrapper was soaked for too long, so it lost its springy chew. Sauce was good though. I still like Merit’s spring rolls best.
Well executed vegetarian pho. They know how to cook noodles properly, which is essential. They even did half rice noodle and half egg noodle in a single bowl for us! Great service. Tasted great, didn’t seem like there was MSG either. I find the broccoli a little distracting. For some reason, I associate broccoli with Western food, so it seemed misplaced, but other than that, I was happy with this bowl.
It’s rare to find vegetarian banh mi sandwiches (to my knowledge, I’d like to be proved wrong… ), so I was super excited about this. Again, like the pho, well done. The one thing is the broccoli, which I just don’t understand. I would’ve liked to seen more tofu and maybe some more flavor in the tofu. Still good though.
Finally, to top off this meal, I got my favorite dessert, che ba mau. Didn’t disappoint!
My husband and I had a great experience here and would definitely recommend trying.
Nice review. Standard banh mi shops should have one and often more vegetarian versions on the menu. For example, Thanh Huong, Phat Tri, Huong Lan,
Restaurants that add banh mi to their menu as an aside might not. I typically eat banh mi at banh mi shops (and avoid the pho there) and eat pho at pho restaurants (and avoid the banh mi there). Vietnamese businesses are quite specialized.