Even on weeks that are stressful, or that I’m working weekends, I always look forward to a little corner of heaven at lunch time we have aptly named “pho-riday”. Since the beginning of this year, without fail on the last day of the normal work week, we have made our way at lunch to a wonderful little Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Van. If you’ve never had pho (pronounced fuh, not foh), it’s very complicated beef noodle soup. Or you can be like me and be an infidel (or whatever mean name my friend A liked to call me that day) and order chicken pho, with chicken broth and broccoli. Then, you can do anything from eating it just as is, with rice noodles, broth, meat, and onions like our friend P does – or put in handfuls of bean sprouts, jalapenos, cilantro, basil, chili sauce, and hoisin, like me.
Now if your pho looks like this, you’ve got problems. Or you’re on drugs. Nothing wrong with that and all, but chopsticks are pretty tricky to navigate while mentally impared (or for some of us, on a normal day), so you might want to stick to something easier, like cheetos. Or gerber baby food. Or wearable feed bags.
As long as you can stay away from the pho-reaky pho-loating heads in your bowl, you’re guaranteed a great meal. We have not brought one new person to lunch with us who has not been infected with love of the pho. Zliten and I have very few things on our list that we eat weekly, a big salad at the salad bar being probably the only other thing, and rightfully so – Austin has more restaurants per capita than pretty much anywhere in the universe, and variety is the spice of life, as they say.
The greatest thing is that pho is pretty darn healthy! Sure, if you’re on a low sodium diet, you’re going to blow your load in pretty much one meal, but except for you un-salty dogs, it is like the super food of satiation! It’s a total of about 400-600 calories (400 being a small, lean, beef order or my chicken, 600 being a large with fatty beef), and you are FULL after it. A brothy soup appetizer is supposed to help you cut calories at a meal, so eating it AS your meal has to be super awesome, right? I like to spice mine up to ridiculous levels topped only by our pho-riend J, so I’m sucking down water like the well is about to go dry (yay, hydration). Also, it will probably become apparent as we get better acquainted (or for those of you who know me) that I enjoy a good cocktail or 5 on occasion, and those occasions are usually Friday. After my normal breakfast, pho lunch, and a snack, I’m resting comfortably at about 600 calories for the day. That means I can have a sensible dinner and some drinks and I’m not heading into danger-land, or I can splurge and go out for something splurgier than normal. Like the butter drenched red lobster meal I had last night. Oops.
So get on the bus, man (speaking of drugs…). Find a little Pho house and give it a try. The smaller, the less decorated, the more yelling in the kitchen, the better. I’d suggest starting out with a lean beef of some sort and work your way to the tripe and other weirdness, if you swing that way. If you’re not a red meat eater, most places have chicken, seafood, or vegetarian options, though I can only vouch for chicken being tasty. You may not go every Friday like we do, but maybe you’ll fall in love, or at the very least you’ll have tried something new.
You probably don’t have to get as pho-reaky and pho-natically obsessed as we do to enjoy it, but it’s fun to be over the top about things sometimes, right? Well, we’ve even gone so far as to make pictures (above, horrible photo-chop jobs by yours truly), and videos. The latest one was a spoof of the x-files trailer, and we actually wrote up a little script and blocked out the scenes and everything, which definitely was more planning ahead than we did for the last few.
Pho – good times, healthy-ish food, and an event you can look forward to! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to pho-ly and get me some noodle-y goodness in my bowl (chop sticks, soup spoon…meat-a-balls). And yes, we really do eat that sort of thing all the time…or at least, we want to…