Last night, my friends Lisa, Cristin and I headed downtown for a night of girl talk, Vietnamese food, and showtunes. Where the girl talk originated is easy enough to determine, I suppose - the Vietnamese food we found in Chinatown, and the showtunes at a West Village piano bar called Marie's Crisis.
Girl talk and show tunes are all well and good, but what I really want to talk about tonight is pho. Pronounced "fuh," it's considered by many to be the national dish of Vietnam. It's a noodle soup, traditionally with a beef broth, served with piles of fresh herbs, a few citrus wedges, and lots and lots of hot sauce on the side.
Chinatown boasts many Vietnamese restaurants, and there are endless opinions on where the neighborhood's best pho is to be found (See, for example, this eGullet discussion on the topic.). Since I didn't want to determine my companions' meals ahead of time, I thought we'd better head for somewhere where more than just the pho could be vouched for, so we picked Pho Viet Huong on Mulberry, just south of Canal.
We started with some excellent barbecue beef rolls - hot, grilled beef wrapped with lettuce, mint and cilantro - and great spring rolls, hot, bubbly, and bursting with porky, mushroomy flavor. And then, three steaming bowls of pho arrived at the table.
I dosed mine with plenty of Sriracha and dug in, chopsticks in one hand and soup spoon in the other. The broth was fragrant, and there were enough tender rice noodles to feed three Queenies. I ordered a pork version, and the slices of meat bobbed amidst the herbs, just waiting for an extra little dab of hot sauce. Paired with a bottle of Saigon Export, there simply could not be a better cold-weather meal.