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Main Dish

Warm up with pho-nomenal noodle soup

By , - Last modified: January 25, 2013 at 11:51 AM
Shrimp pho at Pho Cali, Harrisburg. Photo/Erica Streisfeld via Instagram
Shrimp pho at Pho Cali, Harrisburg. Photo/Erica Streisfeld via Instagram

While chicken noodle is one of the most popular American soups, the recent frigid temps call for going outside the bowl (I mean, box) for more varieties. I think a new soup pho-losophy is in order.

Even though I didn’t mention it in my 13 food trends for 2013, pho has definitely been gaining in popularity. Pronounced “fuh,” not “foe,” pho is a traditional and very simple Vietnamese rice noodle soup that includes beef broth, herbs, spices and some sort of meat or seafood. And, yes, you can get chicken. It’s like a Vietnamese version of our own beloved comfort food.

Don’t be alarmed when the pho arrives at your table — it’s a big, somewhat intimidating bowl! Here’s what you do. The waiter will bring a side plate of garnishes, including lime, jalapeno slices, bean sprouts, Thai/Asian basil and cilantro. Use what you like. I recommend squeezing a lime wedge into the soup and adding a healthy helping of bean sprouts and some of the herbs. Top it off with a few squirts of the hoisin sauce and sriracha hot chili sauce (aka rooster sauce) that you’ll see on the table.

Your given utensils will be chopsticks and a Chinese-style soup spoon. My advice: Use them carefully so that noodles or broth don’t go flying onto your face. Put the chopsticks in your right (or dominant) hand and shovel clumps of noodles into your mouth with them. You’ll also need them to pick up the meat or seafood. Your other hand will work the spoon — for broth and any floating bits of goodness. It takes some getting used to, but this dish is totally worth it.

I tend to frequent Pho Cali at the Asia Mall in Harrisburg, simply because it’s right around the corner from the office, but there are plenty of pho places in the area. By the way, there’s also a real hidden gem of a Thai restaurant — Kanlaya — at the Asia Mall. I highly recommend both. What’s your favorite Vietnamese restaurant for pho?

Where to eat pho in Central PA:

Cumberland County

Golden Gate 2, Mechanicsburg

Issei Noodle, Carlisle

Dauphin County

Garden Vietnamese Restaurant, Harrisburg

Golden Gate, Harrisburg

Little Saigon Restaurant, Harrisburg

Meiji’s Vietnamese, Harrisburg

Ninh Kieu, Harrisburg

Pho Cali, Harrisburg

Pho Miss Saigon, Hershey

Lancaster County

Lanviet Vietnamese Restaurant, Lancaster

Noodle King, Lancaster

Pho Billiards, Lancaster

Pho Lancaster Cafe, Lancaster

Pho Thanh Thuy, Lancaster

Rice & Noodles, Lancaster

Saigon Cafe, Lancaster

York County

Market Street Viet Thai Cafe, York

Pho Bistro, York


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