Pho is pronounced “fuh” — like “foot” without the t. Pho fans employ many puns in their praise: phocused, phonatics, photastic, pho fix, phogasmic, what the pho?, and un-pho-gettable. Traditionally, Vietnamese people ate pho noodle soup for breakfast and sometimes lunch.
When you think about comforting concoctions on a cold winter evening, few things sound as inviting as a steaming, aromatic bowl of rich beef broth filled with tangles of rice noodles and thin slices of beef.
The ultimate pho dish - not for the faint of heart - is known as "specialty pho" or pho dac biet and contains every type of meat available in the restaurant including chicken hearts, liver, beef tripe, and tendons.
Despite its popularity, opinions differ about the origins of pho soup. Culinary experts generally agreed that the rice noodles were brought by Cantonese immigrants from Guandong province in Southern China. Some say the soup itself was influenced by the French during their colonization of Vietnam, however locals dispute this theory. The Vietnamese claim that pho originated in the Nam Dinh province just southwest of Hanoi and then spread to other parts of the country. Some culinary experts speculate that the word “pho” may come from the French “pot-au-feu,” or beef stew, which literally means “pot on the fire.”
Ingredients and styles of pho noodle soup vary by region throughout Vietnam. Ga typically means that the dish contains chicken; bo means the dish is prepared with beef.
The dish is usually accompanied by basil, lime, chili, and other extras on the side so that eaters can season the soup to their own taste. The balanced tastes of sweet, salty, spicy, and citrus are highly contagious; pho usually becomes an instant favorite for anyone!
So, in January, let us travel around the downtown area of Seattle and stop in on a Sunday afternoon and sample the local fare. Here are a few favorites. I have contacted each restaurant and was assured we can fit 10 people at most places. Once we get closer to the actual date, I will be confirming if we can squeeze in a few extra members.