Pho Bo
By Lydia on March 19, 2008 1:19 PM| | Comments (3)
I have been trying to get someone to accompany me to the pho place on Division since I noticed it 3 months ago. Unfortunately I seemed to be less than convincing as I went on about the joys of oxtail soup with some less popular parts of the cow. After skipping breakfast in favor of reading Dining Out in the Times, I realized that now was the time, company be damned. I first had pho (pronounced like "fuh?") in Portland, a city with a sizable Vietnamese population. I had never heard of it before and I remember being surprised when a bowl of soup not only filled me up, but made for a delicious leftover dinner as well. Of course, I shouldn't have been surprised because pho is like a full meal with broth, not the meager soups that some of us are used to. It consists of a rich beefy oxtail broth filled with rice noodles, brisket slices, and various sorts of tripe and tendon, and served with an assortment of garnishes including lime wedges, bean sprouts, Thai basil, and jalepeno slives. Hoisin and Sriracha hot sauce live on the table to be stirred into the broth to taste. Pho is very nearly a perfect food, as worthy of repeat ingestion as pad thai or chicken curry. So why did it take me this long to find it in Grand Rapids? And why was I unable to find a lunch companion? Pho Bo, or Rosie's Kitchen (?), is a fair distance away, down the long and pockmarked streach of S. Division best known for pawn shops. It's a tiny place, and unadorned, with only about six mismatched tables. When I was there half the restaurant was taken up by a table of loud Vietnamese men, a single white man ate alone at a two top, and a couple sat in a corner. I took a seat by the window. The waitress gave me a menu, but I already knew what I wanted. I wanted whatever the house Pho turned out to be. Two minutes later a bowl the size of my head was set in front of me, vapor rising. A small plate of garnish came too, along with a pair of plastic chopsticks. Quick note about pastic chopsticks; I'm all for reusable flatware, but the plastic gets slick when you keep dipping into a huge bowl of hot soup, and I'm ungraceful enough sucking down floppy noodles without having the sticks slip from my hands. Having come to terms with my less than dainty eating habits, I finally dug in. The broth was perhaps leaner than others I've tried, the beefy richness subdued. I was also dissapointed by what had to be 1/16th of a lime on the garnish plate. I squeezed that in, and followed it with most of the basil and sprouts. One of the great delights of pho is the crunch of sprouts against the tenderness of the noodles. I was also very pleased to find chunks of toothsome tendon and tripe. Tripe may actually be the reason no one will partake of the pho with me. It looks way gross, no? I slurped my way through half of my delicious bowl before giving up in the face of overwhelming fullness. The waitress teased me when I asked for a take-out container for my leftovers, and I paid my $6.50 and left. I will be very surprised if I go a week without returning; I haven't had a lunch that satisfying in weeks. And hey, maybe if I can get some without tripe I'll even have some company!

If yr free on thursdays in the later afternoon, you have yrself a companion, sis. See you soon.

no tripe for me, thanks.

yeah i can't handle seeing the villi.