Been craving pho for the longest time, ever since lent, and that awful Thai Son experience. Although I did satisfy my Vietnamese noodle craving at Phnom Penh a few weeks ago (review here), I didn’t actually get pho, specifically pho tai sach. Convinced a friend and his son to grab a bowl (or two) with me for lunch. We headed to Pho Hoang where, last I checked, there weren’t any pigeons in the kitchen, and the place is always clean.
Ordered my #15 (pho tai sach) small, and decided to sample their chicken wings as well. I think they were call Butter Fried Chicken Wings. The hot bowls arrived and I took a few sips of the broth, unadulterated. And then it was time to play! Shredded the mint into my bowl, dunked the bean sprouts into the soup, forcing them to go down to the bottom of the bowl. Also got some extra Thai chilis and split them open into the soup as well. I squeezed out two generous squirts of both the chilli sauce and the hoi-sin sauces straight into the soup. Then I aimed a few more squirts of the two sauces onto the Thai Chili plate for dipping. Usually, by this point, my other friends have inhaled half their bowl, wondering when I’m going to eat.
As luck would have it, my friend used the whole time I was doing this to fix up lunch for his little guy. So in fact, for the first time in my life, I started eating before everyone else at the table! The noodles were perfect, the bean sprouts just slightly cooked but still had a crunch and the chilli seed throughout the broth made it nice and spicy. The beef slices were a little bit clumped together and more cooked that I normally like. Remember the days when you could ask for your beef “on the side”? Does anyone do that anymore?? The tripe was cooked through, and quite tender, and there was a lot of it. Definitely good value too because I’ve been to places where you get 5 slices of beef and two strands of tripe, and I’d say Pho Hoang gives you almost double!
The wings arrived and they weren’t nearly as oily as we had feared (and secretly hoped). Nice dark colour and very crunchy looking. They served it with a lemon pepper dipping sauce, just as they do at Phnom Penh, but there was no comparison. The wings were good, soft and juicy inside with a crispy coating, but the batter was a little bland. Good thing the sauce was provided, it definitely made the dish better.
Overall, the Pho was better than Thai Son, and the wings were worse than Phnom Penh. I’d definitely come back the next time it’s a rainy and miserable weekend in Vancouver…pho is a good comfort food. But if I’m craving chicken wings, I’m going to have to suck it up and wait for a spot at Phnom Penh.