Like most Austinites, I welcome cooler weather after enduring a seemingly endless summer. November marks the beginning of sweater weather, and you can bet that about the time I reach for something knitted, I’m darting out the door to devour a steaming bowl of pho in Austin.
Of all the Vietnamese dishes to garner attention in the West, none have achieved the same level of adoration as phở (pronounced “fuh”), which also happens to be the national dish of Vietnam. Pho is comfort food at its finest: warm and hearty, and served in generous portions. Piping hot broth is poured over rice noodles and the desired protein or veggies, then served with garnishes on the side that include basil, lime, bean sprouts and jalapeño. Sriracha and hoisin sauce round out the flavor profile, satisfying all senses of the palate: savory, salty, sweet, sour, bitter and spicy.
Traditional pho is made by simmering marrow-rich beef bones. The liquid is seasoned with a variety of spices including ginger, cinnamon, star anise, clove and cardamom, creating a broth so complex in its layering of flavors that it will never taste the same from one kitchen to the next. There are many variations of the traditional dish available in Austin, including vegan options. Gluten-sensitive? Good news! Pho is gluten-free (so long as you forego hoisin sauce).
The next time you’re in search of a magical hangover cure or desire an inexpensive meal to warm you on a cold day, give one of my top five Vietnamese restaurants in Austin a try.
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