Monday, January 19, 2009

It's all in the broth at Pho So 1

If what you do on New Year's Day is any indication of how the rest of the year is going to be, then my 2009 is going to consist of me waking up feeling horrible, going back to sleep, getting up to shower, going back to sleep, waking up again, and then sleeping some more. And then around five pm, finally getting up to eat.

In my defense, after all the New Year's Eve festivities TL and I hadn't gotten home until about five in the morning, and by that time I had lost my voice and was feeling terribly ill. I'd started feeling crappy even while at Ssäm Bar, and by the end of the night I was done for. (It didn't help that we had run around so much in the cold—a cute dress under a thin wool coat and arctic wind just don't mix.) So when JL and LB asked where we wanted to meet for dinner, nothing sounded appealing until TL mentioned a Vietnamese restaurant AS had recently recommended. A giant bowl of hot, steamy pho seemed like just the thing.
We met at Pho So 1 on Mott Street, a below-ground restaurant with a cheery yellow awning and equally cheery service. TL ordered summer rolls and I tried a piece of bánh cuon, which were steamed rice flour crepes filled with a mixture of minced vegetables, shrimp, and meat, served with nuoc cham and pieces of the circular "pork loaf" often found in bánh . Unfortunately, I wasn't into the mushy texture and muddled flavor of the dish. It might have been a proper version but for me it was a pass.
The pho, however, was just what I needed. JL, TL, and I each got the house version, and it arrived in a seriously massive bowl brimming with rice noodles, beef balls, and pieces of tendon, rib eye, and flank. The flavor of the broth was great—meaty, clean, and fragrant—and we all agreed it was among the best any of us had ever had. Each sip was wonderfully soothing and felt perfect for my aching throat.

I've heard more good things about Pho So 1 since, and I'm excited to try some of the other things on their menu. If the pho we had is any indicator, the rest is definitely promising.


  1. OMG, limes & culantro in NYC? I thought I could only get that in Virginia! Thanks for the good tip; I've had nothing but "meh" pho in NYC and this looks promising.

  2. I should clarify - most of the pho I've had in NYC do not have a complete salad plate like what you posted. It's a 50/50 chance that I'll get lime. Most of the time it's LEMON. GAH!

  3. Gastro888, I feel you on the lemons, although at least I've gotten limes at most of the places in Chinatown. I hope you check out Pho So 1!

  4. I went back today and they ran out of limes so alas we were served with lemons instead. This seems pretty common at most restaurants though, limes when possible but sometimes lemons.

  5. do they, by any chance, have a vegetarian pho there?

  6. Hi Howard, sorry but I didn't pay attention. I have no idea, but I hope so!

  7. headed there today, will let you know.

  8. oops, didn't see if they had a real vegetarian pho, but they did have a vegetable pho, if that clears it up. meaning, it probably still has meat in it.

    but damn, the food was so bad! we didn't get the pho. but instead got roast duck soup with mushrooms over vermicelli, and the broth had NO flavor. all the flavor came from the quirts of hoisin, hot sauce and white pepper I added. the roast duck was tough (how do you get tough meat in a soup?

    we ordered lamb curry over vermicelli and instead got subbed with shrimp curry over vermicelli; thin, watery soup, frozen chemical tasting shrimp, and just bad. vermicelli overcooked, etc.

    service was really slow although the plates nicely garnished and durian shake was really good but . . . . won't be going back again!

  9. Whoah, what a difference in your experience. I've heard so many other good reviews of the place that I figure it has to be more than just a difference in taste…I wonder if it's started to go downhill?