Pho Adventures

Pho never appealed to me because I had the misconception that it was just raw meat in a bowl. I listened to the nay-sayers who told me I would be eating tripe and other weird things. While I am a pretty adventurous eater and I enjoy trying new things, intestines are not on my list of things to try.

That being said, a few good friends whom I trust have raved about Pho for so long I decided I wanted to try it. My friend Sam offered to take me to a place she really likes for my first experience. I took her up on it because it had been awhile since we’d hung out.

It was a gray, dreary spring evening but with Daylight Savings it was still light enough out for us to walk to the restaurant from her house. We zipped up our coats and strolled through the blooming cherry blossom trees in the neighborhood.

The ground was still wet from an earlier rain shower but it was a nice evening for a walk. We went to Pho DaLat off SE Hawthorne (for you Portlanders it’s right across from the Fred Meyer). I remember that location changing cuisine a lot. Inside it looks like it used to be a breakfast place a la Denney’s or the Waffle House at some point in time.

We were seated immediately (the place is huge) and we got tea right away. I think it was Jasmine tea–sweet and lovely. And it was hot, which was nice after our chilly 8 block walk to the restaurant.

Sam helped me figure out what to order. She was getting the Pho with beef balls, tendons and tripe. I was positive I did not want that! Instead, I ordered the noodle soup with flank steak. I was hungry and tempted to order a large bowl of the soup but Sam talked me out of it. She assured me the small was massive, and she was 100% correct.

They also brought a plate of the “mix-ins.” It was sprouts, jalapeno slices, lime slices, various kinds of basil and cilantro and greens. The plate was heaping. Sam instructed me to plop some of the jalapenos into the soup to getΒ theΒ flavor out and to squeeze lime juice into the broth and mix it around with my chopsticks.

The meat was on the bottom of the bowl with the noodles so I mixed it all up. Then I tore the greens and herbs up and mixed that in, followed by the sprouts which gave the soup some crunch.

It was insanely messy to eat so I do not recommend this type of cuisine for a first date. πŸ™‚ I really enjoyed the Pho! It was savory and hearty. The broth was delicious and was the perfect thing to eat on a cold, rainy day. I added Sriracha sauce to the soup to give it some heat. I gobbled it all up it was so good.

How many calories are in Pho? I have no idea. I Googled it and got a million different answers. Best guess-somewhere between 400-800. Um, that’s pretty vague!

I was so glad I finally got to try Pho. I liked it a lot and my new mission is to try other restaurants around Portland that serve it. Michael really wants to try it too, so I might take him one day soon. I am ALWAYS up for soup. It’s one of my favorite things. After the Pho we opened our fortune cookies.

Vague, but telling at the same time. I’ve been looking for a solution to a problem in my life lately. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong place….After we wrapped up our gab-fest and finished eating, we walked back to her place. It was dark by then but at least it wasn’t raining. It was a lovely evening that exposed me to some new cuisine. Win-win!

QUESTION: Give me your thoughts on Pho. Love it? Hate it? Never going to try it?

35 Responses

    1. Oh, and I have no idea about the calorie count either, but it can’t be much – I always lose weight when I go through a heavy pho period. :o) I get the vegan version though, and I go heavy on the veg, easy on the noodles (never been a noodle fan).
      Ingunn recently posted..alterNAB

      1. I was skeptical that it was so high in calories because it’s a broth. Broth based soups aren’t high in calories at all. And the add-ins are all natural veggies and stuff. It seems like it would be low to me!

      1. My husband and I always share a bowl (portions tend to be huge) of vegan pho – it will usually have tofu or seitan for protein. I give most of my noodles to him, and then add lots of Sriracha to mine, I like it spicy πŸ˜€
        Ingunn recently posted..alterNAB

  1. I LOVE Pho.

    I was introduced to it about 7 years ago by my now husband (who is Vietnamese/Chinese) and it is a meal we crave on a warm day. I stay away from the tendon and tripe and try to get the leaner cuts of meat. In Vancouver, the portions are huge ~ so I would have to say 800 calories seems reasonable for your average size bowl.
    Why? because the noodles themselves are very very high in calories. As well, most of the cuts of meat are of the fattier, higher calorie type. If you ever watch the broth settle while it cooks the raw meat, you can often see the fat rise to the surface. The good places make their broth from scratch using up all the fatty bits and bones. And the sodium is through the roof from all the wonderful sauces used to flavour it!
    However, a bowl of Pho will keep you full all day long so it prevents me from snacking etc.

    But if you eat half the noodles, keep the lean cuts ~ it is a perfect dish to work into the diet. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
    Crystal recently posted..All hail the mini egg

    1. That makes sense, Crystal. There were a lot of noodles and I loved every bite of them! πŸ™‚ It was a meal I really enjoyed and will definitely be trying it again. I still think the broth makes it healthier than most soups. I’m not surprised about the sodium either.

  2. My Fiancee and I tried Pho for the first time a few months ago and really liked it. We got the full on version. I didn’t know what all was in it, but it was good. I would definitely get it again, but probably with the flank steak only like you got bc the other cuts were a bit to fatty for me. We split the soup and couldn’t believe how big it was.

    1. I could probably eat the “other stuff” if I didn’t know what it was. But knowing what it was….meh. No thanks. Apparently the bowls are always big–that’s what everyone is telling me.

  3. I reluctantly tried pho at my boyfriend’s house. He is also Vietnamese/Chinese, so his mom made it frequently. I didn’t dislike pho, but I felt like it was lacking something.

    As for eating pho out, watch out for MSG. Almost all pho restaurants use an excessive amount of it.
    Courtney recently posted..Fact or Fiction?

    1. Good call on the MSG. I am super sensitive to sodium. If there is tons in food I eat, I am insanely thirsty. That didn’t happen after pho so maybe it wasn’t too bad.

    2. I totally forgot about the MSG ~ some restaurants use it and some don’t! My husband’s mom cooks with it often as well ~ I only recently found out it is in about half of the dishes she makes and now I know what is in that little shaker I thought was just salt!
      Crystal recently posted..All hail the mini egg

  4. I LOVE pho! There is a restaurant right by my work that has delicious pho and whenever we are sick we got get some. We add a little bit (or a lotta bit) of sriracha in to spice things up (and clear our sinuses). It is so good!

    And those cherry blossoms are gorgeous!!
    Becky recently posted..Washington DC – Day One!

  5. I love pho! But the nearest place to us that serves it is an hour’s drive away so its been years since I’ve gotten to eat it. πŸ™ Now I really wish I had some extra cash so we could drive over there!
    Deb recently posted..Day 165

    1. Man! Where do you live? Is it out in the country? I’m just curious why everything is so far. But don’t mind me, I’m a city girl used to having things 5-10 minutes away at all times.

      1. I live in Lancaster, CA. I’m literally right smack dab in the middle of the old part of town, 5 minutes from all the necessities. But if I wanted to say go to a club or a bar that wasn’t a total dive, or go somewhere for some sort of ethnic food other then watered-down Chinese or Thai (we do have one really good Thai place within walking diastance- Yay!), I’d basically have to drive at least as far as Valencia, maybe as far as Los Angeles. Nothing ever happens here. There’s some nature areas (a few that are absolutely gorgeous), and if you head out of town a bit, tons of agricultural stuff, and there’s an Indian museum way out on the East side, but as far as “civilized” stuff? We’ve got nothing.

        I don’t want to sound like I’m totally bitching about it though. Yeah, a lot of things I’d like are usually out of reach, but for the most part its quiet here. That part is nice, and travel fifteen minutes outside of town and you can see every freaking star in the sky at night! That alone makes it worth it. πŸ™‚
        Deb recently posted..Day 165

        1. I don’t think you’re complaining at all. I totally get the draw to live in the “outskirts” where it’s a little more country and peaceful. I’ve lived in the city my whole life but escaping out of it is something I love to do. Of course, I’d want to be within driving distance of the necessities. πŸ™‚

  6. I love pho! Me and my husband go several times a month. I’m not sure where you are in Portland but our favorite place is Pho Huy on SE 82nd (in the Winco parking lot area) near the Clackamas Town Center. It is wonderful and the owner is so nice. Highly recommend you try it, they have an amazing pork wonton soup and a vegetable with tofu. I’m like you I prefer not to eat the tripe, I don’t like the texture. Glad you had a good 1st Pho experience!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Erin. I’ll give that place a try. Have you been to that Sushi place in the parking lot next to Winco? It’s really good for Clackamas.

      1. I don’t think so. We go to a place called sushi kata, its off of McLoughlin BLVD, that’s wonderful, its a total hole in the wall but they have amazing food and great prices.

  7. Very nice article!
    I’ve only tried Pho once, finally caving in after years of attempts by friends to get me to sample it. I popped into a Vietnamese restaurant for some pho on a whim while out alone running errands. I had no idea what I was ordering, and the results backed that up. The dish (a broth with a number of puzzling ingredients) was OK, but when trying it again I’d want someone along with a deeper knowledge of the dishes.
    Quite a few people whose culinary opinions I respect recommend pho cuisine as being among their favorites, so I owe it to myself to give it a thorough evaluation!
    Dalton Chad Everett recently posted..Amazon Breakthough Novel Awards Quarterfinals – Brothers In Darkness Free Excerpt

    1. That is incredibly brave, Chad! I was afraid to try it on my own because I had no idea what to order. Granted, once I got there I realized I could have figured it out because the menu clearly spelled out which dishes had the tendons and tripe, etc.

  8. oooh, Pho Dalat! I used to eat lunch there a few times a week, no joke! my boss, the doc and owner of the Naturopathic Clinic I managed right next door loves that place, and we would eat there all the time. they make him this awesome dish that isn’t even on the menu, lemongrass chicken with peanuts and all kinds of veggies – SO good… I would get it with tofu instead of chicken.

    before it was Pho Dalat it was an awesome Chinese place… Rainbow Village? so so good. πŸ˜‰
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