Rooster sauce

You get your choice of rooster sauce at Pho Ha in South Philly: smooth or chunky.

Rooster sauces

Rooster sauces

We were down in South Philly Chinatown on Washington Ave. looking in Asian markets for bento box supplies for the wife, and we stopped in for some pho in the little Vietnamese market area at Washington and Sixth. I became very fond of noodle soup while living in Taiwan, and Vietnamese pho is, well, analogous. Lime and cilantro, rice vermicelli instead of wheat noodles, and instead of the sparse fan of roasted pork on top, pho features a generous medley of strips of beef. You can order strips according to cut (and our menus had, as so many Asian restaurants that cater to the curious, to the diversity of the neighborhood, and to other uninitiated, a photo guide to select from). I went for sliced steak, sliced brisket (marbled with veins of fat), and sliced flank (think bacon but from a cow). I ordered the large, the wife ordered small, and the son got the child’s portion. He ate just the noodles, and drank a Coke.

Oh, it was good. I don’t know who would have the appetite to eat an entire large order. I confess that I ordered the flank strips because I thought the fat looked appealing in the picture, and although they were pleasantly chewy, the thick ribbons of yellowy fat that sandwiched the meat were a little unappealing to Western eyes. I left a few strips at the bottom of the bowl. Hey, I couldn’t eat it all. The brisket strips were especially tasty, and tender, shearing apart into beefy lace as the chopsticks pulled them out of the broth. The steak strips were very nearly rare as the server brought the bowls to the table, and we watched the broth cook them to medium, at which point it was cool enough to eat. The pho was to Vietnamese tastes for sure, and the broth was maybe sweeter and a little heavier in coriander than I would want it to be, but it was very satisfying, and I ate too much.

And a new toy, a one piece stainless-steel Chinese chef’s knife ($15!):

whoo. sharp and shiny.

whoo. sharp and shiny.

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