Things About Phở

Pho is a “traditional Vietnamese thinly sliced meat and rice-noodle soup dish”. (Lazily, I am using the Wiki to save time on coming up with my own definition. Similarly, I can’t be bothered copying and pasting or going through the symbols to type “pho” with the correct accents, so apart from the title, it’s just gonna be “pho” with no jiggly bits. Sorry.) My usual pho haunt is the Vietnamese noodle place in the New Food Court in Chinatown. The other day, after getting our eyes checked and selecting some new frames at Arndale, Mum took me and my Aunty to a pho joint on Daws Road. I can’t remember what it’s called, something with a number, like “Pho 70” or something like that. 

Anyway, the experience turned out to be quite educational as my Mum and Aunty know a thing or two about pho. Mum’s great at randomly knowing things when you least expect it. A good pho should be served up really hot, the soup should be hot enough to easily “cook” the beef. Especially important if you’re having pho with rare beef, in which the beef slices aren’t cooked before they are put in the hot soup. Too few rice noodles and too much soup makes for a stingy pho. I announced that I thought the pho from the New Food Court was tastier. Turns out that’s because they add more MSG. You can tell, my Aunty said, if your mouth gets dry after you have your pho. Excess MSG will do that. A good pho doesn’t depend MSG for its flavour. Now, referring back to the Wiki, apparently claims that MSG is bad for you are scientifically unsubstantiated, BUT the point is that domestic knowledge passed down the maternal line is the good old fashioned way of learning things, and for some reason that appeals to me in a homey kind of way. 

I love the silky smooth rice noodles, the soup that is so remarkably flavoursome given how clear it is, the refreshing herbs and the zesty flavour from the lemon juice you squeeze in. Such a fantastic mix of flavours and it’s usually so inexpensive. Even the cheap plastic bowls and plates the meal is served in adds to the experience. I love you, pho. If anyone knows of any good local pho joints, do share please.


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