Review: Pho Bac Vietnamese Beef Noodle
Over the past couple of years as I’ve driven past the corner of Goddard and Glenwood, I’ve noticed the evolution of a small family owed restaurant grow into what it is now, Pho Bac Vietnamese Beef Noodle. I watched the previous open-counter sandwich deli shut down, and the hard work of remodeling it into a sit down restaurant unfold. For months there was building, painting, and prepping. At last, it opened and I was anxious to try the food.
Upon entering, I was greeted with the familiar smells of a delicious Vietnamese kitchen and anxiously took my seat. I was excited and had expectations to find Bun, Pho, spring rolls, and all my other favorites, but that excitement quickly faded when all I found on the menu were 12 different varieties of beef pho (pronounced “fuh”). What a disappointment. My heart sank for the owners because if they don’t quickly add more to their menu I doubt they will be around longer than a few short months. But I do love pho so I went back to being hopeful of my experience of the moment.
After trying to figure out how each of the phos could possibly be much different with the exact same ingredients (just different cuts of meat), I selected the jumbo pho option. It was delivered in the traditional boiling hot manner with slices of raw beef that cooked right before your eyes in the broth, along with beef brisket, beef meat balls, beef tendon, and rice vermicelli noodles.
It was accompanied with a plate of bean sprouts, chili pepper slices, lime, and thai basil, as well as a separate small bowl of broth with an egg cracked into it. I broke up the egg and dumped it in the soup bowl along with all the veggies. It looked absolutely beautiful, but the aroma was missing a key pho ingredient….. star anise.
What is pho without star anise? I tasted the broth just to make sure. Nope, not there. How sad. But I was here to enjoy the experience, so I added the traditional condiments of Hoisin sauce and Siracha hot sauce and dived in.
The beef was fresh, the meatballs delicious, and the tendon a blast to eat. The whole thing was good, but not the pho I fell in love with years ago. Pho just isn’t pho without the sweet flavor of star anise and the pungent char of fire roasted ginger. I was disappointed to say the least. But I suppose if you’ve never had pho before, you would absolutely love this soup as is. It was very savory, and did have a great flavor to it, just not what I was expecting or what I wanted. I will visit them again though and order a different pho. I’m curious to know if they use the same broth for each pho dish or if they have different ones they use. Maybe my star anise broth is on the menu yet.
Read about my second visit to Pho Bac Vietnamese Beef Noodle.
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