How to Eat Pho and Finding Your Own Pho - A Primer For First-Time Diners
Finally! Someone to tell me if I've been embarrasing myself for the last six months... I love noodles of all kinds and discovered a local place called Pho 79 and have enjoyed their offerings ever since. if I were Buddhist, I might suspect that I was Asian in a previous life from the feeling of "being home" the aromas and flavors brought to mind.
Hi Bear: So what have you done that may be considered embarrassing? Care to share?
Nothing in particular Cuong. Just trying to figure out the Thai vs. Chinese manners thing. I grew up with a pair of Chinese/Irish boys and their first generation Chinese grandmother and she introduced me to many of the foods she cooked, but she didn't know more than "you try" and "you like?" and the boys were too bored to sit and translate, so I got a grand introduction to bok choi, Chinese pickles, five spice powder and so many other flavors, but almost no explanations, names or understanding of the social aspects which went with the foods. At the table, she often had me ape her actions and rewarded me with a smile or a frown for my manners. I learned that a gentle slurp of broth made her smile like the sun, mixing sauce with rice was acceptable and that biting off a noodle got me a shocked frown. As time has gone on, I've grown to understand that family eating is the ideal, slurping is a sign of enjoyment and a compliment to the chef, the Chinese don't view white rice the same as the Japanese and that biting/breaking a noodle is a sign of shortening life. No one at Pho79 has said anything about my slurping, huntched over my bowl with a spoon in my left and a pair of chopstickes in my right hand, looking like I could stick my face in the bowl at any minute!. I just don't know what manners I should be following and I want to compliment the staff and the cooks in a way they understand, beyond just telling them. I also have a dream (which will probably never come true, but who knows) of eating my way through SE Asia and I'd like to arm up in advance.
Bear: Well said and thanks for sharing your thoughts! If anything, i think you are right on with your understanding and attitude toward the most basic of human behavior: eating and the enjoyment of eating. See you at a pho shop sometime soon.
Now, you know why I'm as heavy as I am and earned every pound! Happy Pho!
Hi... I love pho but so far have stuck with chicken. After having had it approximately 10 times, I'm unable to try anything different...so addicted have I become to this previously unknown and strangely hypnotizing flavor combination. I've resorted to picking mint to garnish any leftovers but have asked my husband to plant Thai basil in Spring so I can be happy, lol. Everyone seems to talk about beef here so I will resolve to try it soon. I'm not the best cook but would love to attempt my own version someday. It's getting expensive for takeout and my daughter wonders
why we go over and over again to the same vietnamese place. She wants to branch out but I play the parent card and say when she pays she can pick. I really enjoyed reading about pho and am happy to discover my manners were instinctually good...although I did bite off my noodles...will stop that from here on out. It's so relaxing to have a slurpy good time and not be embarassed about my family's noisemaking. Thanks for the educational experience...oh why oh why did I marry a pirogi maker? Give me pho or give me death!
Barbara: Yes pho is hypnotizing, as you put it. Beef pho has always been popular, but our first pho restaurant Ui-Cha! on the University of Montana campus in Missoula is doing strange thing: chicken pho is pushing up in terms of quantity sold, so beef pho is being challenged in a serious way. When done right, chicken can be very very good. So don't give in to the mass. Just enjoy what you enjoy 😉
I love Pho Ga when I'm feeling run down or feeling like I'm getting sick. My favorite place has the most flavorful chicken broth!!!