I had just about given up. After two years of trying and ultimately being disappointed, I decided if I wanted my favorite dish, I would just have to go home to get it. Thanks to a good friend back home, I have been eating Pho for a long time. Whether it was his Mother’s homemade version or the $7 behemoth (tax and tip included) served at Pho Ha, I have eaten more of this hearty soup than I could have ever imagined. When done correctly, the oxtail/beef broth is both delicate and bold. Always served with Siracha and Hoisin, it’s best to taste the broth on its own, to begin with, to appreciate the subtleties of the spices (charred ginger, star anise, cloves, etc; just to name a few). The rice noodles give the soup it’s substance and the slivers of onions, bean sprouts, fresh basil, mint and lime work perfectly adding theirs flavor without muting any of the other components. Lastly Pho is finished with thinly sliced raw beef that cooks in the broth. Depending on what you like, the thin cuts of beef can range from flank to brisket and tendons to meatballs. As you can tell, I’m quite obsessed with this meal of a soup and to not have found a version as good as what I’m used to, left me disappointed and in denial.
Last night we made it back to Pho Sure (remember we tried to go but it hadn’t opened yet) and I was so sure I was going to be disappointed. How sure you ask? Pho Sure! That right there was the reason I was hesitant. Call me a purist but having been let down by so many lame attempts at Pho in the past, I was sure a restaurant with such a cheesy name couldn’t possibly nail such a simple and traditional Vietnamese Dish. The cheese factor didn’t stop at the door. The four varieties of Pho all have their own cheesy name. Luckily the decor is not at all cheesy although a bit more modern than what I’m used to when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine. I ordered the Pho Sure which was served with rare beef, brisket, and shin. Trust me when I say I wanted to hate this place. I had convinced myself of this fact before I even walked in the door. But to my amazement, when I did my broth taste test (pre-siracha) the lightness was followed immediately by the boldness of the spices. The broth wasn’t greasy (a terrible component of a lot of bad Pho’s when restaurants add oil and fat to increase the flavor) but rather it was clear and delicious. The additional components were spot on as well and I finished every last drop. It has been a while since I have been to Pho Ha back home (going home soon to do another taste test) but this version was certainly pretty close.
Pho Sure is a part of the Baoguette restaurants that have popped up in Murray Hill and the East Village, so we decided to start out with one of their classic Bahn Mi sandwiches. The classic consists of pork terrine, pate, and pulled pork served on a delicious baguette and filled with fresh herbs. Another home-run. And at only $5, these sandwiches are a welcomed addition to the expensive and often boring lunch options by Washington Square. Our second appetizer, the soft shell crab was just so so but I’m not sure why we even ordered it. We should have kept to the basics.
I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong and in this case I was way off. If you haven’t had Pho before I urge you to. Just make sure you find a place like this one to get a good version otherwise you’ll be turned off. I’m thrilled to finally have my favorite dish back as an option. Although I still wouldn’t mind if they changed the name…
Pictures will be posted tonight!
Pho Sure 8.5/10