What Is Great and Authentic Pho? Here's One Example

Pho Lu beef pho tai chin sachI don't write much pho reviews these days, but I can't help but write this one on Phở Lú. It's a funny name, but the pho is near heaven. We all have our own ways of describing our best pho experiences, and here is my own example of great and authentic pho.

Many well known pho chef and Viet culinary experts have said, I agree with them: It's all in the pho broth.

So it happened at Pho Lu. A whiff of the bowl placed in front of me almost knocked me off my chair. It wasn't bad, no, it was strangely yet familiarly great! I instantly knew that I was going to enjoy this. In fact I sat and stared at it for 5-10 seconds (I don't remember.) So what's the big deal? People eat great pho everyday. Well you can read many online reviews of pho at Pho Lu, but for me, the fragrance that entered my nostrils instantly brought back life I had in Saigon. No not recently, not even at Pho Hoa Pasteur that I raved much about recently. No it was my childhood. Pho as I remember it in Saigon before 1975!

My intuition told me I needed to pick up the spoon and try the broth immediately. All I can say is: it is what pho broth should be. So then on this rare occasion, I finished this huge bowl of pho without adding the hoisin sauce for pho and the red hot sauce. No I didn't forget. I just didn't need them. I normally only do this for authentic Pho Bac, the northern kind.

Pho Lu front entranceHere’s what I had and my ratings:

November 9, 2009
Pho tai, chin, sach (beef: rare, well-done brisket, tripe,) large size, and cà-phê sữa đá (iced coffee with condensed milk.)

Pho noodle: (5/5)
Soup stock: (5/5)
Meats: (5/5)
Garnishes*: (5/5) freshness
Garnishes: (5/5) extra points for fresh ngo gai
Price: (-1) for small extra charge for rare beef on the side
Extra points: (5/5) for clean dining area, very comfortable ambience, authentically friendly service
Total points: 29/35
* No points for expected garnishes of sprouts, Thai basil, lime and chiles.
For further explanation of my rating system, see the post "The Importance of Garnishes for Pho."

Phở Lú
10141 Westminster Ave, Ste 5
Garden Grove, CA 92843
(714) 539-7979

Phở Lú as seen from Westminster Ave. - just across from Pho Vie II!

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The coffee was great by the way. And as long as we're talking great pho and great pho restaurant, why not take this poll and tell us your opinions if you haven't already done so. Thanks!

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  1. apple916 15 April, 2012 at 00:36 Reply

    Hi cuong,

    did you get a chance to see if ipho quality has slipped yet? give me the green light and I’ll be there

  2. Cuong Huynh 15 April, 2012 at 22:05 Reply

    apple916: No I did get back in the area but the schedule did not allow even a stop by Pho Lu. Will have to put it on my list again for next 2-3 weeks when I’ll be back there. Why don’t you go and let me know 😉

  3. Cuong Huynh 25 April, 2012 at 16:42 Reply

    apple916: I’m afraid it’s a yellow light: warning on Pho Lu. The quality has definitely slipped. Of course one sitting is not for judging, but after consistently serving good pho, the broth now tasted somewhat bland to me when I stopped by last week. Looks like a change in operator.

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