While walking through Downtown Chinatown recently, I stumbled upon a Vietnamese restaurant in Honolulu that was completely filled with at least 100 people having lunch. Peeking in, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to take the kids there for lunch, with the intention of introducing them to pho, a popular noodle soup dish of Vietnam.
What I do know about pho (during my travels to Cambodia and Vietnam in the early 90’s), was it was primarily eaten for breakfast mainly in small villages. Fast forward and you can pretty much find a place that specializes in pho at almost every major city in America. Hawaii, with its large Asian-influence has close to 120 Vietnamese restaurants in Honolulu, all of which serve pho. With so many on the island, we were lucky to be at one that was full and bustling with people.
First, let’s get the pronunciation correct. The kids immediately read, PHO and pronounced it as it was written, which could be argued as one of the many Vietnamese dialects. By the true pronunciation of the word PHO is FUH which most American’s have trouble remembering, like me for example.
Nonetheless, we are here at PHO MY LAN to try out some of their Pho goodness!
We were given a menu and decided to allow the waiter to pick out the most kid-friendly version. He did point out however that the noodles (Pho actually refers to the noodles and not the soup) were steaming hot and not kid-friendly so I’d needed to proceed with caution when serving to my keiki. We ended up ordering a #19, suggested by our waiter and patiently awaited its arrival.
Our Pho arrived with a plate of fresh vegetables and herbs the kids were eager to figure out. First there was Basil (from Thailand), bean sprouts, green onions and some coriander. These herbs are normally placed right into the hot Pho and add more flavor to the already yummy beef broth we were consuming.
Although there were a bunch of sauces on the table to ‘add’ to the broth, I decided to keep it simple for the kids sake (though I could have easily added some Sriracha for that extra bite)!
The only add on we decided on was a splash of lime, but it really didn’t need it. This Pho was “the bomb”, according to Jaf and Leah just couldn’t stop herself from sipping all the broth.
After a few minutes, we noticed the entire restaurant was empty. Everyone had left, gone back to their day jobs and quietly exited the door. Either that or we were just too focused on our Pho’s to let anything else distract us. Since this visit we have been to several Pho restaurants and the kids have become experts on the “How To” of Pho.
Here’s our simple guide to EATING PHO LIKE A PRO!
Sample Your Broth
This is the most important step to check if you’re satisfied with its taste. If not, we recommend adding simple things like salt, pepper or just a squeeze of lime to get the right taste.
Add your herbs
Grab whichever herbs you choose and add them to the broth by pushing it down with your chopsticks. Submerge all the vegetables and flip over any pieces of “pink” beef you may find floating at the top as well.
To Sauce or Not to Sauce
The kids stay clear of any sauces since they prefer just a clear, clean broth.
Eat it, Slurp it!
Time to enjoy your Pho! Use that soup spoon to catch any noodles that may fall when using chopsticks. Or better yet, use a fork when you’re starving and can’t wait!
PHO MY LAN – re-opens Dec 15, 2015
60 Maunakea St
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817 (808) 528-3663