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KatieLoeb

Pho Saigon

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Finally checked out Pho Saigon in the shopping center at Washington & Delaware Avenue. It was really good and a lot closer to home than Chinatown! Summer Rolls were excellent and crunchy and the peanut dipping sauce was delicious. Also tried the basic beef pho (the works minus the tripe) and shared a pork and seafood noodle soup. Both excellent. The pho broth was rich and tasty and not too salty. The broth for the pork and seafood soup was lighter and brighter and also very delicious. I also like that they include other herbs along with the Thai basil for the soup. Those long leaves that have the serrated edges, smell a little like a cilantro alternative. Don't know what they're called but they are delicious in the soups! Servings are generous and the place is really cheap. All this food was $17 before tip! Next trip I'll try the Bun Bo Hue which does NOT contain the nasty cubes of blood I hate and apparently does have pig's feet in it according to the waiter's description. Sounds good. Staff is pleasant and speaks English more fluently than any other Pho joint in town. A bonus for those unfamiliar with the cuisine and who need to ask questions.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Thanks James. I've heard of culantro before and even seen it, but wasn't 100% certain it was the same as the ngo gai I'd had in Asian cuisine contexts before.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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i went to pho saigon today and had a nice time. their pho broth lighter than some places -- it isn't as meaty or anise-y as others i've had. also they go a lot heavier on the meat and lighter on the noodles than most places. good food.

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Next trip I'll try the Bun Bo Hue which does NOT contain the nasty cubes of blood I hate and apparently does have pig's feet in it according to the waiter's description. Sounds good.

It's people like you, Loeb, what makes it tough for people like me to get my blood in my Bún bò Huế! :laugh:

I literally was told that "you people" don't eat "that stuff" when I complained once about getting neither blood nor the "hedgerow" of soup fixins.

Wanna clue me in where those nasty blood-vending offenders are? And no, I've had it at Cafe Diem, and it isn't that great there IMHO.

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Knock yourself out with the blood ridden soup. They do the cubes of blood at Viet Huong, and when I order it there, I just ask for no blood. Even just a few cubes make the whole bowl taste like sucking on a paper cut to me. :shudder: Makes my blood run cold. But if you like it, get down with your bad vampire self. :biggrin:

For the record, I do eat almost everything, but the flavor of blood is one of those few things that skeeve me badly.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Knock yourself out with the blood ridden soup. They do the cubes of blood at Viet Huong, and when I order it there, I just ask for no blood. Even just a few cubes make the whole bowl taste like sucking on a paper cut to me. :shudder: Makes my blood run cold. But if you like it, get down with your bad vampire self. :biggrin:

Ooh, thanks for the tip! Can't wait to check it out. I hope they're open...late. :laugh:

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The sun goes down at like 5:45pm these days. Doesn't even have to be that late... :biggrin:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Stopped by for lunch the other -- the first time I've tasted pho. And it was very good, indeed. I got the beef version with rare beef and fatty brisket. As noted, well-balanced broth. Plenty of beef for the price.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Bob:

You've not had pho before now?? For shame! One of the best bargains in the homey ethnic foods parade. I just love the stuff. It's practically medicinal when you have a head cold. All those delicious herbs and hot steamy broth makes you feel better post haste. Good stuff, pho is. You'll have to explore some more...


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Pho Saigon is the real deal! Pace mrbigjas, I thought the broth was pretty substantial (and it's less clear than many other places), meaty and rich. I think Cafe Diem is still the gold standard for Philadelphia pho-- especially when it comes to the broth-- but this is a pretty close second.

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I love Cafe Diem also, but they're never open when I want them to be. They shut down at like 7 PM or so. Pretty early...


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Yes, lousy hours and service that's just this side of surly are the price you have to endure for the pho at Cafe Diem! It's probably worth it, though I'm still glad there's a new kid on the block that's putting out a good product.

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Had the chicken pho the other day, which I would never get but the manager recommended it.

Really good, clear chicken broth with clean flavors.

It was better than the beef pho that I also ordered.


"..French Vanilla, Butter Pecan, Chocolate Deluxe, even Caramel sundaes is getting touched.." Ice Cream

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Yes, lousy hours and service that's just this side of surly are the price you have to endure for the pho at Cafe Diem! It's probably worth it, though I'm still glad there's a new kid on the block that's putting out a good product.

Someone recommended them to me a few years back for Bún bò Huế. I took my son to Diem when he was home from the service and haven't been back since, as they very nearly lobbed the soup onto the table and the server reminded me in dress, demeanor, and cleanliness of the landlady from Kung Fu Hustle.

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Lets start with the usual disclaimers that no one is being slammed for liking food that others may not like since EG has gotten oversensitive post 2006, we do taste things differently but the one place in all of cuisine where you cannot hide behind perception, smoke and mirrors is broth.

There also is the issue with Pho of what I call the "cost per satisfaction index" which relates to how much you pay for food vs how hot and filling it is based on a reasonable amount of deliciousness. Reasonable amounts of deliciousness however do not provide transcendent meals and pho properly made should make you close your eyes and feel like you are in a street market in Hue.

Went to Pho Saigon last night with 5 people and ordered all the reference Vietnamese soups.

We all reached the same conclusions.

Was it decent food.

Yes.

Was it delicious.

somewhat.

Is it anywhere as good as the same soups at Cafe Diem.

NOT remotely by *ANY* stretch of the imagination.

Here is why.

The food is very sanitized meaning the soul of Vietnam is absent from it.

The Pho Ga at Saigon is made with boneless skinless chicken breast which is just simply unacceptable for Vietnamese food.

The pho ga at diem while a slight pain in the ass to eat is 10 times more delicious due to leaving the chicken on the bone and including thigh meat. This is IMHO the best soup in the city period.

The Bon bo Hue was just not even bon bo hue, not spicy, no pork broth, no fresh ham hock, no depth of flavor.

Pho Bo was just OK, muddled flavors, no clarity.

Pho dac biet which typically has a ton of umami just had no life in it.

The best broth at Saigon is actually the chicken soup broth but the BSCB kills the soup.

Again the food is not bad food, it just isn't really Vietnamese to the degree that a concerted effort has been made to tune it towards western sensibilities.

The people at Diem barely speak English but if you make an effort to meet them halfway by googling the soups and find out which is which, you can simply order by numbers.

Pho Bo

Pho Ga

Pho Dac Biet

Bon Bo Hue

It is all on the web.

Katie Loeb you can have your blood cubes replaced by beef short rib cubes at diem.

Cafe Diem still rules is flavor is the reason you like Pho.

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V:

No question that Pho Saigon is meant for round eyed people. But it's pretty good for round eyed people. And it's open until at least the semi-reasonable hour of 9pm. Not even that late. I can't always get to Cafe Diem for lunch. And that's pretty much my only option given how early they close and how often they choose to close early. Cafe Diem comes highly recommended by my Vietnamese manicurist. I trust her implicitly in these matters. She also likes Nam Son on 16th Street just above Washington Ave. in the Asian mall there. That place is also pretty good, but again, they close early and start mopping with the noxious chemicals before you're done eating. That's just wrong and will keep me from going back somewhere toward the end of the evening.

Thanks for the tip on the blood cubes. I'll keep that one in mind...


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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