Phinding Phucking Phó

I love Pho. But I also hate Pho. But I love Pho more I think. It's a love hate relationship that has been characterised by the dish's recent notoriety in Australia, my home country. A vietnamese classic, Pho consists of a relatively simple noodle soup dish made using flat rice noodles, raw beef, mint leaf, onion and bean shouts. On top of this sparse ingredient list is placed a rich and fragrant master stock broth made from pork bone marrow, beef tail, and all the generally unsavoury bits of animals that we don't usually like to direct towards out mouth. Combined with cardamon, star anise and other distinctly vietnamese spices you end up with a lavishly deep but healthy soup that Anthony Bourdain, the biggest food wanker in the business, has described as the dish he'd quite happily eat for the rest of his life. 

But I hate Pho because of how popular it has become. A dish that has existed in vietnam for centuries is only now achieving international recognition because the worldwide food community had been too quick to dismiss vietnamese food (and south east asian food in general) as palatable to local tastes only. And now everyone loves it, and is willing to pay stupid amounts to get their lips around a bowl. I roll my eyes. 

Anyway, given how Hong Kong is generally excellent with everything food wise, you'd expect decent pho to be everywhere in Hong Kong. Well, not so. Pho is still a bit of an unfounded treasure in Hong Kong, and whilst more Pho places are beginning to pop up here and there, none of them have really managed to blow my socks off (unlike some of my favorite pho joints in Australia). Pho Tai in central comes pretty close though.

The broth is rich, and peppery, and the serving size is beyond generous. I really like that you're given an unlimited amount of mint, bean shoots, chilli and lime wedges to garnish your piping hot bowl. I also like that when you order the raw beef pho (the idea being it cooks in the bowl), then they really do give you raw beef. The time from when the soup is poured over the beef and then delivered to your table, so you still get a nice pink mountain of thinly sliced delicious beef. Though the dining space is small (hey, Hong Kong!), the interior is funky and a obvious reference to vietnams colonial stylings. 

-photo credit: B. Flecker-