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May 5, 2008 at 10:15 AM

Hey, you pho-natics: a question from a reader, and one from me

Alliniece Andino wrote, asking:

I read your review a month or so ago of noodle soups around town and wanted to know if you could suggest a good chicken broth pho. (I know it’s rare, but thought you might know.) I used to get a wonderful, aromatic, light and clear chicken pho from PHO 900, which was one block from my house on the corner of Rainier Avenue and Charles St. (Seattle’s Central Area). Not only was the broth wonderful, but they used thin slices of lean breast meat, fresh basil, jalapenos and bean sprouts. Their rice noodles were made to order. Well, the place closed and I’ve found no good alternative. The broth at Tamarind Tree and most places are pork based and sometimes their garnishings are not fresh. I even got old, hard, cold, rice noodles that were stuck together in my to go order from a Rainier Avenue restaurant. Hopefully, you can help.

Well, Alliniece, in that noodle soup roundup you mentioned, I talked about Kirirom, a Cambodian restaurant near the Lynnwood Convention Center. That’s probably out of your way (though it’s just off I-5 if you’re headed to, say, the Alderwood Mall), though the chicken broth in their pho ga is wonderful. I’ve eaten and enjoyed the chicken pho at Than Brothers, which has many locations throughout the Greater Seattle area. There’s no pork or beef in their “chicken” broth. Nor is their broth made with chicken: it’s 100-percent vegetarian, with the chicken meat added. Anybody out there have other suggestions?

By the way, I’ve been addicted to those cheap filling bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup (pronounced “fa?” as if you’re asking a question) since the first time I tasted the stuff — 20 years ago at Pho Bac, back when the place was painted Pepto-Bismol-pink and we hadn’t yet started calling the area around 12th and Jackson “Little Saigon.” I’ll never forget the day a friend and I walked in, asked to see a menu and was told by a waitress in curlers (curlers!) that there was no menu, only soup: king-size or queen-sized. We ate it, loved it, and I’ve been a pho-natic ever since. These days, I’m getting my pho fix regularly at the Edmonds branch of Than Brothers. Saturday, when I was out running errands and the weather was cold, rainy and depressing, I stopped in for my standing order: a medium pho with extra gau (fatty brisket).

So tell me: Where do you go for pho?


Posted by missypoo

11:22 AM, May 05, 2008

Can’t remember the name of it but the Vietnamese place at the Food Court at Waji’s in International District has great Pho. The chicken is all white meat, still warm from being pulled from the breast. Toppings (cilantro, sprouts, etc.) are very fresh. They have several ‘flavors’ to choose from.

Posted by Avid

11:32 AM, May 05, 2008

We like Phnom Penh Noodle House on S. King St.

( try Batambang’s Noodle )

But you gotta chuckle those traditional favorites:

“What the Pho”, “Pho Pho Away”

and “Pho Get About It” .

Posted by Michael

11:58 AM, May 05, 2008

Pho 5 Star at five corners in Edmonds is my mainstay. I eat there more than once a week. The broth, and meatballs are far better than the Than Brothers in Edmonds for my dollar, and Kevin, the owner is a nice man with a great family. And it is the best price around. My last visits elsewhere were marked by average broth and surly service.

Posted by Lauren

12:05 PM, May 05, 2008

I love the chicken noodle soup at Phnom Penh Noodle House, too–the chicken slices have always been tender.

But I had terrible, inauthentic-tasting beef pho from that Vietnamese place in Uwajimaya’s food court (I’ve also tried their Vietnamese sandwiches and summer rolls, and been very unimpressed with both; there are so many other places in the ID with better Vietnamese food, with similar prices).

Posted by EdmondsJim

12:52 PM, May 05, 2008

I love Pho Cyclo Cafe across from the Starbucks Center in Sodo and although I’ve tried a zillion others that is my favorite even over the others mentioned here; Than, 5 Star (although Michael is right, these are the nicest people ever). Pho Cyclo also has the greatest bun I’ve had since I first tasted Vietnamese 20 years ago @ the State St Noodle House in Salt Lake City

Posted by Debbie

12:56 PM, May 05, 2008

We Pho at:

Pasteur’s Noodle Soup

12025 Highway 99 Ste C

Everett, WA 98204

Posted by mama g

2:18 PM, May 05, 2008

I am not a pho-natic, but I’m told it is THE cure-all for a hangover. I have a friend who swears by the stuff on those Saturday mornings when coffee just won’t cut it. One of his favorite places… Pho Bac. Happy Slurping!!

Posted by M Honda

3:04 PM, May 05, 2008

Pho Lily in Burien, FANTASTIC

Posted by foozy

4:00 PM, May 05, 2008

Than Vi on University Avenue in the U District has a terrific pork broth, though I don’t care for the pork slices. My favorite order there is the tofu and vegetables in pork broth. Huge, hot and impeccably fresh.

My first pho was also Pho Bac, and I still think it has the definitive broth.Though I guess you get “imprinted” on your first broth – it becomes the default standard by which all others are judged. The way Campbell’s tomato and cream of mushroom soups STILL taste to me like the definitive versions, even though I’ve had wa-ay better versions since Mom opened those cans.

Posted by Jennifer Cox

4:39 PM, May 05, 2008

My favorite is Pho Cyclo, which has locations both in SoDo and on Broadway in Capitol Hill. The chicken pho is fantastic…not sure if they use chicken-only broth, but they do have a vegetarian pho that uses vege broth. Also not to be missed at Pho Cyclo are the Vietnamese sandwiches…the best I’ve had in Seattle.

Posted by Nurse W

5:50 PM, May 05, 2008

When we need a Pho break at the hospital…we nurses head for our dear friend Kevin at 5 corners in Edmonds…Pho 5 Star!!! Fresh, cheap and delish!! He always has a smile and remembers your name….”How is the hospital today?” “Are the nurses hungry today?” Our family has even called ahead to order in abundance his spicy chicken appetizer wings with assorted dipping sauces to bring to many a party!

Posted by andrea

10:14 AM, May 06, 2008

MMMmmm. Pho Bac, also what I call “Heaven in a Bowl.”

Pho Bac was my first Pho experience, and so far, by far, my favorite. It helps that the ladies serving those bowls of heaven are just SO delightful (never seen the curlers, but wouldn’t surprise me)!

I’m heading to Vietnam in a couple weeks, and am nervous that I won’t find a bowl of noodles and broth as wonderful as that served at Pho Bac – and considering the soup hails from Vietnam, that’s saying a lot.

Posted by cindy

9:01 AM, May 07, 2008

we go to a place in bellevue for our pho fixes. not remembering the name of it, but it is right across the street from the crossroads mall. they bring a tiny cream-filled pastry while you wait for your yummy pho. the pastries are pretty delicious too!

Posted by Nancy Leson

9:56 AM, May 07, 2008

That would likely be Than Bros. in Bellevue, Cindy: they’re famous for those cream puffs. And, as so many folks like to say, “Life’s too short. Eat dessert first!”

Posted by Vudoo

3:49 PM, May 07, 2008

For authentic (outside of VN that is) chicken pho, I recommend (in the same plaza, same level as the New Kowloon Restaurant).

Mai Thao Restaurant

900 S Jackson St

Seattle, WA 98104

(206) 381-0606

For beef pho, my favorite in Seattle is (nearby):

Pho So 1

1207 S Jackson St

Seattle, WA 98144

Good luck…

Posted by Press Any Button

11:38 AM, May 08, 2008

Pho 900 has moved to Braodway. They are now across the street from El Greco and Charlies. Bon Apetit!

Posted by TanGia

9:47 PM, May 18, 2008

hi,where do you go for Pho?missed Pho 900 on Rainier and Charles ave? do you knbow they moved to Capital hill and have same name? they are at 216 broadway e, seattle 98102. i go there all the time and they not only served chicken ‘s pho… they also have vegetarian ‘s pho. that ‘s awsome, fresh vegetables,nice.clean.give them a would love them again.

your reader

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