Pho, Ramen, the noodle dishes... I'm sure you've heard of them. For the longest time I thought they were the same, and that the names were interchangeable. Both have been around forever, but despite the many restaurants serving it, I have never eaten anything other than the small packs for $0.30 in the grocery store.
I mentioned this tidbit of information to Joshua Fitzwater, Publisher of Southern Grit Magazine, while we were at ExceptionAle drinking a beer and taking photos. He was shocked, as most people are when a "foodie" hasn't eaten something most people love, and informed me that Pho is in fact a Vietnamese dish while Ramen is Japanese. So we immediately went to Pho 79 in Ghent to try it out.
I started with the Vietnamese Spring Rolls: rice paper filled with shrimp, pork, lettuce, cucumbers, cilantro and vermicelli served with peanut sauce. The ingredients were fresh and light, yet full of flavor and satisfying, perfect for those days when I want to eat out without worrying about excess calories. But I'll stop there, this isn't a healthy eating post...its about the Pho.
As much as I wanted the Tripe (thanks to Fitz for letting me try some of his), I stuck with the mainstream option and ordered a small #4; Pho Tai Nam Gau: rice noodles topped with round steak, brisket, and flank covered in a flavorful broth.
Its topped with onions, scallions and cilantro, and comes with sides of bean sprouts and lime, which I didn't hesitate to use.
The portions served here are huge (for me), that actually I had to force myself to finish it, and could barely eat dinner later that night. Most people shouldn't have this problem, but if you have a huge appetite getting the large size will get the job done.
The flavors of the broth were like fireworks in my mouth. "Its only a broth...I used to say", but every spoonful I took was better than the first. It wasn't watery, too salty or lacking anything, just a continuous ball of flavor unraveling in my mouth. The meats were thinly sliced, tender, and had a good balance of fat but without any tough gristle.
I am slapping myself for waiting so long to try this and now I'm on a mission to find the best Ramen Restaurant in the Hampton Roads area. I welcome any recommendations.