Pho Lovin’: Pho Bang (NYC)

With such a ramen frenzy going on in New York right now (a cute little “guide to ramen” column in Time Out this week; buzz on Eater about yet another Hakata-style rameneria opening in Greenpoint in the fall; the ramen war that Setagaya ignited with Momofuku before they opened a couple months back, etc), I dare repeat what I’ve been saying for years: ramen in NY SUCKS.

I’ve tried almost all of them: Momofuku, Setagaya, Rai-Rai ken, Rockmeisha, Menkui-tei, and more, and they are all subpar. None of them can get it quite right. The worst part? It’s always over $10 for a measly bowl! Drives me nuts.

So instead, why don’t we focus on a noodle soup that is wonderfully plentiful and ridiculously underrated (and CHEAP) in this hype-infected city: PHO. I cannot proclaim to know a lot about Vietnamese food, but I crave it all the time, especially pho and banh mis. It’s all so perfect, a bowl of pho, with its fresh, crispy sprouts, the lightly seasoned soup, the various internal beef parts, the al dente rice noodles.

My obsession continues as I hunt down the best pho in this city- one that outshines any bowl of ramen here, any day.

The other night, I went to Pho Bang in Chinatown for the second time, it’s a little place with french bistro chairs, glass table tops, and good lighting. I had the standard bowl of pho, the Tai nam Fau Gan Sach, a combination of eye of round, brisket, tendon and omosa (basically tripe).

I love that the round comes almost raw- better to eat it right away before it gets over cooked- so tender. The omosa has a crunch to it, and the tendons have this great jelly-like consistency. Not for everyone, but I love it. Next time I will take pictures of the parts, for all you cow-part-non-believers.

The soup has so much depth of flavor- not overly beefy, just aromatic, and kinda sweet. A few squirts of sriracha adds a little kick. The raw onions and scallions are also a plus.

The most ingenious part about pho is the standard plate of bean sprouts, fresh basil and lime that comes on the side. Coming from a ramen background, where you stir fry the sprouts and veggies before hand (not standard, but I like to), this was always a bit puzzling to me. But it all makes perfect sense- the crispness of the sprouts, that cooks just right in the hot soup; the distinct flavor of fresh basil, the squirt of lime– all come together to act as a cooling agent in the hot hot heat.

It’s summertime in a bowl- the perfect food in this heat! I think that Pho Bang is excellent- had a fantastic meal the first time I went too- make sure to get the rice crepes with beef that they advertise on the walls!

And of course that the best part of all this is that a bowl of pho is only $4.95! Add $1 for an extra large bowl with more noodles and more beef- more, more more!!! Can’t beat that!

How much exactly did I enjoy my pho, you ask? See for yourself…

Pho Bang
157 Mott St
(between Broome St & Grand St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 966-3797

Mon-Sun 10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

Related Readings:
Pho Fever: great site I found devoted to the bountiful pleasures of pho
– LA foodblogger Oishii Eats backpacks South East Asia and chronicles her pho finds and other street eats in Vietnam

2 Responses to “Pho Lovin’: Pho Bang (NYC)”

  1. Jeni Says:

    Hey Kayoko…where have you been??? Ahhh…glad you love the pho! I’ve been having major pho cravings since I’ve been back. Hope to hear from you soon.

  2. Jeni Says:

    Hey Kayoko…where have you been??? Ahhh…glad you love the pho! I’ve been having major pho cravings since I’ve been back. Hope to hear from you soon.

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