Ever since the Banana Blossom suffered tornado damage, I’ve been craving a good place to get pho here in NoMi. After spending a week moving (without taking time off of work), my need for decent pho was at an all-time high. Imagine my delight when I saw that the Bangkok Market has added this southeast Asian staple to their menu.
First, however, a little pronunciation lesson is in order, as I’ve heard several different ways to say this word. I started out pronouncing it phonetically (see what I did there?), with a sound similar to the first half of “faux pas.” I’ve heard other people say fa, as in do-re-mi-fa…and only recently another friend of mine said it was pronounced “fuh.”
So when I saw a sign at the Bangkok Market that said “Pho,” I went in and asked for a bowl of fa. This was met with a blank stare, even though they’ve gotten used to this white dude coming in and butchering even the most basic Hmong words. But asking for “fa” got no reaction. So I tried “fuh.” Nope, nothing. “Fow?” Not on the menu either. Then I just realized there’s no way I’m getting this right and said, “You know, the soup you have out on the sign.”
“OHHHH! You mean fheuhrhr.” Or that’s as close as I can get writing this out. It sounded more like the adults from the Charlie Brown cartoons speaking, while underwater, with major sinus congestion, immediately after having major reconstructive dental surgery. Then that person said “fheuhrhr.”
“Fir?” I asked.
“Fur?” (I thought I had it right this time.)
(Enunciating for my benefit) “Fhhhuuueeerrrrrrhhhh.”
And so on, went my failed monosyllablic language lesson, until the food (fheooohdh?) was ready. I’m obviously not going to pretend I know how it measures up against other pho by southeast Asian standards. But as far as I’m concerned, this was an absolutely amazing meal. The broth was perfect – piping hot enough to cause the noodles to break up immediately, but just cool enough to be edible without delay.
The fresh basil, bean sprouts, and jalapenos were spot on, and there was a variety of meats to choose from. I’m pretty sure my meal had chicken, shaved beef (or pork), and stomach parts from an unidentified animal. But the best part was the price for the quantity of food. What you see pictured above costs a more-than-reasonable $6.46. The only reason I was able to take this down in one sitting is because I had eaten only a grapefruit for breakfast, and dinner came at 5:00 after a full day’s work. Otherwise, this is easily a meal for two.
So the next time you’re in the neighborhood, stop by the Bangkok Market and ask for some fa-, fo-, fu…well, just point to the sign and say “soup.” They’re probably used to it by now.
(Photo by Jeff Skrenes)