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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The Hungry Student: Saigon Pho

    Jessie Webster

    Diners line up to order in Saigon Pho on Wednesday. Saigon Pho calls the Vietnamese soup, pho, “soup for the soul.”

    Saigon Pho (pronounced fuh) and all its herbaceous goodness is sure to satisfy the hungry, or the hungover, searching University Boulevard for something tasty and filling.

    The restaurant is classified as fast casual, the newest restaurant rendition that birthed hits like Chipotle and Pei Wei, but ordering at a counter does not harm the food quality.

    But what is pho, even? Pho is a broth-based soup filled to the brim with thin rice noodles and one’s choice of protein or vegetables. The more adventurous eaters can enjoy ox tail and tripe, while those of more Americanized tastes can take comfort in tender chicken and beef. The soup is often garnished with yellow onion or green onion. Both make an appearance in Saigon Pho’s version.

    Pho broth is a matter of pride, and enthusiasts will judge a restaurant first on its quality. Traditionally, beef bones, star anise, ginger, yellow onion, cloves, fish sauce and a hint of sugar are stewed for hours with a lot of water. The result is a complex stock sure to cure any ailments. 

    The No. 35, beef pho without those pesky meatballs, the texture of which is the restaurant’s only major downfall, came out piping hot. The high point was decidedly the broth: light, flavorful, slightly spicy and aromatic. A tablespoon each of sriracha and hoisin sauce and a squirt of lime juice rounded out the bowl.

    Saigon Pho has not forgotten its vegetarian patrons, though. There is an expansive menu featuring vegetarian pho, spring rolls, stir fries and more. Options include soy-based proteins, tofu and good ol’ veggies. Nearly every dish can be found in a vegetarian variation.

    The boba (bubble) teas and smoothies are not to be missed, either. The traditional milk tea with boba was slightly sweet and refreshing. It had the classic black tea depth but with just enough milk to take off the edge. 

    For those unfamiliar with Vietnamese food, Saigon Pho has a brief introduction to the condiments commonly eaten with pho on each table. On the walls, an article praising the health benefits of Vietnamese food is posted for patrons to read while they wait for their food to be delivered to the table.

    There is limited seating in the small-but-colorful restaurant. If someone stops by for their pho fix during prime lunch hours, they may end up sharing one of the eight-person tables with other patrons. Not to worry, though: Diners are accommodating and mostly keep to themselves. 

    When next wandering and looking for something wholesome, stop in and try something new. You’ll love it pho sure. 


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