Last week I had Bún bò Huế, which was a beef noodle soup from Central Vietnam. This weekend, Stephen and I decided to visit our favorite noodle place: Phở Lu.
Phở or pho (pronounced Fuh or Fa) is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped white rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily served with either beef or chicken. Pho is a popular street food in Vietnam, where southern Vietnamese eat it for breakfast and occasionally lunch, whereas those from northern Vietnam consume it at any time of day. Broth is very important in pho, as it is how the dish is judged. It is generally made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, charred ginger and spices. The spices, often wrapped in cheesecloth or soaking bag to prevent them from floating all over the pot, usually contain: clove, star anise, coriander seed, fennel, cinnamon, black cardamom, ginger and onion. Typical garnishes for phở are: onions, chili peppers, cilantro, lime, bean sprouts, and Thai basil, and dipping sauces like hot and spicy pastes.
Phở Lu specializes in this type of noodle soup, and one dish that many people rave about is their Oxtail Pho. When you receive your order, the restaurant serves you 2 bowls: 1 bowl containing the phở noodles in the house broth, and the other bowl is the oxtail itself in the au jus that it was simmered in. The oxtail broth is richer, and full of flavor, and tastes wonderfully by itself, but it will overpower the pho. When preparing my bowl of noodles, I deconstruct my oxtail and mix the meat into the house broth. Then, I add my garnish of a squeeze of lime, the basil, a handful of the bean sprouts, and a squirt of hoisin. Later, I’ll add the remaining broth from the oxtail into the house broth, and savor the marriages of broth. This is probably my favorite version of pho, hands down.
Our dinner here was inexpensive. Two medium bowls of the oxtail pho, plus iced teas came to $21 with tax and tip. This place is also a great late night location, as they’re opened until 3:00 am daily. Phở Lu is located at 10141 Westminster Avenue, just east of Brookhurst.