I recently discovered a new religion.

I’m not sure what to call my new spiritual calling, but I can tell you it involves eating as much pho as I can get my hands on. I had been curious since my buddy Spoon started raving about it last summer; a couple weeks go, we found ourselves hungry and within walking distance of the strip.

OK. This is pho:

It’s pretty simple, really — a slightly sweet beef broth, simmered for hours, thinly sliced beef, rice noodles and some scallions. The plate on the side allows you to make your pho the way you want it: sprouts, jalapeño, basil. There’s also some red pepper paste that serious hot — I used just a little.

I know, I know — it doesn’t really sound like a big deal, but holy crap, it’s amazing. Sweet, spicy, tender beef and noodles. A wide range of flavors that blend into something that’s completely unique, at least to me.

And if you’re more adventurous than me, you can get your pho with tendons and tripe. If you do, be sure to tell me how it is.

The first time we stopped at Vietnam’s Pho in the strip a couple weeks ago, Mrs. Crappy didn’t have pho. She tried Bun Dac Biet — number 15 on your menu — a delicious mix of pork and grilled shrimp mixed with veggies and served over vermicelli with the best spring roll I’ve ever tasted.

If you haven’t tried pho — or any of the other delicious-looking Vietnamese fare — you should. And if you’re really curious about it, you should join us Tuesday night at Vietnam’s Pho, at 1627 Penn Ave., for our first-ever pho-up. Bring cash — they don’t take cards — and come hungry. You might just have a religious experience.

UPDATE, Sunday: We’re meeting at 7. You can RSVP at the Pittsburgh Tweetup site. BRING CASH.


  1. hrm. I’m not so keen on fancy other foods. You can thank the Scottish mom for my bland food likes. The rugby ladies are going to Tram’s Kitchen next week. I dunno if I want to go or not. They’re also going to Azure 18 next week and I’ve opted out.

    Something tells me I need to expand my food repertoire despite my incredible fears.


  2. Amy: “Religion” is probably the wrong word, but holy crap is it good. You should meet us there.

    AAA: One of the beautiful things about this stuff: at its most basic, it’s broth, beef and noodles. From there, you can make it as jazzy — or not — as you like. Come try it!


  3. When I was in Vietnam, I seriously thought about the logistical details of opening up a pho shack in the Strip, serving pho and only pho in all its goodness. Seems I wasn’t the only one with the thought that the Strip needed pho. Now, they just need to set out little plastic chairs out front and have a big pot of the broth bubbling in front of the restaurant. No one could resist.


  4. its a religion and I’m a firm believer. I messages some Pho experts whom got me started into Pho so they may be able to spread some light into it.

    I have tried the tendon and I suggest you do that and the tripe at least once so you can say you had it. Just dont think about what it really is or your mind will screw it up

    Yeah what time Tuesday? I’m in and the fam may come with.


  5. This hits me where I live and breath. I have loved Pho since being introduced to it by many of my Vietnamese colleagues at an old job I had back in ’89. To me, it’s the perfect meal.

    I interviewed a girl who worked at a local Pho house a couple of years ago and was surprised to find out that Pho can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in Vietnam. There is no right or wrong time to eat it. There is no right or wrong way to eat it. It’s an unassuming, belly warming meal in a bowl. And like any bowl of noodles, when you sit down in front of it, it becomes the center of your universe.

    I made Pho once. Took all day, and it was delicious. But for the amount of work that goes into it, I have no trouble shelling out $7 for a bowl any time. But it’s worth making, if only for the stock. Get good oxtail bones (with marrow), roast them, then build your stock from there. If anyone would like the recipe from the Vietnamese cookbook I used, let me know.


    1. The dangers of working in print: you might never stop to consider what “pho up” sounds like when read aloud. Thanks for the much-improved name.


  6. We have same available in Columbus at Short North Market, sinfully good, and cheap too. Bring your growlers as ‘Barleys’ is just around the corner.


  7. YOU are going to eat tendons? YOU? I find that very hard to believe. The pho looks really delicious. I’ll have to do some digging around here to find some. I’m trying to watch my salt intake..is it very salty?


    1. I ate tendons. I’m not sure I’d do it again, but they weren’t bad. And Doogle made good on his promise to try the one with tripe, even though I chickened out.

      I couldn’t tell you much about the nutritional value — unless we’re talking about its spiritual nutrition, which is off the charts. But no, it doesn’t taste salty at all.


  8. The Sister, if there’s one thing that’s mildly unhealthy about this dish, it’s the sodium content. It’s pretty high, and most Pho restaurants use a good amount of MSG.

    Just drink lots of water afterward and you’ll be fine. And GO FOR THE TENDONS. They’re great — like eating meat flavored gummy bears.


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