Despite the pouring rain, our little family hit Pho 95, our only current favorite spot for hot Vietnamese noodle soup, as part of our Saturday morning ritual. What makes Pho 95 stands out is the wonderful fragrance of pho as soon as you open the door. Pho 95 is generous with meat and its noodle is just right (not too soft or overcooked), but the best part is that even after you finished your pho, the broth is still hot.
What makes pho unique is the customization. You can order pho according to your preference, but for an adventurous enjoyment, check out the following tips.
First you have to order a large size because that is the Vietnamese style. Only a buck more to upgrade to a large bowl. We love more for less. You can order the special with everything in it, but I prefer tendon, meatball with raw beef on the side. Add a side dish of fresh onion soaked in vinegar and a bowl of fat with scallion root.
When the soup comes out, add chilly sauce to the onion bowl depending how much you can tolerate the spiciness. Add chilly, hoisin sauce with pieces of basil into your raw dish. Squeeze lime into the raw beef as well to let it cook. With the bowl of fat, dump the whole thing into your pho if you don’t care about cholesterol. If you do, just two or three tablespoon is sufficient. Taste the broth and you can tell the tremendous different.
With your hot pho, put in bean sprouts and basil, but do not stir. The trick to keep the pho hot is not to disturb the noodle. Just take what you can eat at a time. Work gently into the noodle to prevent it from expanding. With raw beef, hot and sour rings of onion and fat-soaked scallion, that’s how you enjoy your pho.
Even with the pouring rain outside, people where standing in line to get into Pho 95. People must like to eat pho when it rains as if the wetness and the cold temperature make pho even more delicious. Another great part about Pho 95 is that it located right next to Banh Mi DC, my favorite spot for iced coffee. I happened to pick up a banh tieu (hollow bread) that was fresh off the stove. I let Dao tried a small piece and he wanted the whole thing. In the car, two little kids (Dao and Donny) were fighting over banh tieu. It was just awesome.