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Best Manhattan Pho

Hi All,
I have seen many threads here regarding Pho but many people seem to add other dishes (ie buns, etc) into their overall assessments of Vietnamese restaurants.

I'm looking for the restaurant that has the best PHO (not really concerned with other dishes) hands now in Manhattan.

From the other threads I've seen these have been mentioned:

Pho Viet Huang

Nha Trang (Baxter below Canal)

Cong Ly

Pho Bang at 157 Mott

Anyone with new information?
thanks! :)

Cong Ly
124 Hester St, New York, NY 10002

Nha Hang Pho Viet Huong
73 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

Nha Trang
87 Baxter St, New York, NY 10013

Pho Bang
157 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

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  1. You ever try Pho Tu Do on Bowery between Grand and Hester? Pretty good, pretty cheap.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

      the old one or the new one? Now it's called New Tu Do; same crazy decor but according to a friend, broth is not as good.

      1. re: bigjeff

        just went there (New Tu Do), very very happy with the flavors, the portions. we had a number 1 and also a special soup (second item on the menu under the glass) which was, I gather, some chiu chou soup: glass noodles, sweet fragrant broth, seafood, slices of pork, also little bits of fried pork fat and ground pork, served with lettuce and bean sprouts.

        both were good.

      2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

        agreeed...i've been going to this place for almost ten years. not the best pho but hearty and cheap.

        New Tu Do
        102 Bowery, New York, NY 10002

      3. always been a fan of Pho Grand.

        1. Cong Ly was quite good, but I've had better, in Atlanta of all places. About $5 for a mid-sized bowl, not the cheapest either. But will definitely hit the spot.

          1. I've eaten at all mentioned except Pho Viet Huang. Of those, Cong Ly is probably the best. You do realize that the best in Manhattan really isn't saying that much. If you're going to eat on Baxter, I prefer New Pasteur to Nha Trang. I'm not sure why people like that place so much. I haven't eaten at Pho Tu Do in over 10 years, but I have to say it was some of the worst Vietnamese food I've ever eaten, so I've never been back.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pernodoj

              Yeah, the state of Pho in Manhatten is a sorry one I must say. Pho Tu Do was decent at best and my favorite of the ones mentioned but maybe a bit inconsistent over the years? It was good the last time I tried it but I've heard from friends that they've been off as of late.

            2. I like Xe Lua on Mulberry Street. Pretty good broth and nothing tastes "off" about it, like some other places. I don't like Pho Grand very much--it's too fatty.

              1. So, is there no pho place that makes their own noodles in the "fat" style like I've had at Turtle Tower in San Fran?

                1. I've been disappointed with Cong Ly lately-- their broth has gotten so oily/fatty. A real shame since it used to be my favorite place. But their stuff seems relatively fresh, at least-- the basil, bean sprouts, etc.

                  I spend a lot of time in LA (unfortunately) and I haven't found anything that compares to Pho999 (either Reseda or Sepulveda locations). Sorry!

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: vicktoire

                    Holy crap, Vicktoire! I used to live in the valley, and Pho 999 was my 2nd home! Went at LEAST once a week. Seriously, maybe some of the best pho I've had in my life.

                    Then I went on a road trip to visit some friends in Baltimore...went to a pho place...and guess who was there? The owner of Pho 999! He opened this new pho place in MD, I guess he's got relatives down there. And as usual, it was amazing pho.

                    OK, here's my fave pho places in Manhattan (like everyone said, it's all kinda bleh...but you gotta make do w/ what you're given. and they still do take care of my frequent pho cravings)

                    #1: Pho Bang on Mott
                    #2: Xe Lua
                    #3: Cong Ly - I think their noodles are the best. tasty and great texture

                    Note: ALL the pho in Manhattan are to oily/fatty!!! If anyone finds one with a cleaner broth, pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaase post it!

                    1. re: jimboyoo

                      When we visit NYC (from Philly) and want Pho we go to Pho32 in Koreatown (only because we usually stay in Murray Hill so it's close). It's eh, but hits the spot well enough I guess. We have been surpised that it's not as good as the Pho we get at a place called Vietnam Cafe in a suburb near us here in Pa. Surprising that Manhattan is so weak with such a popular and good dish!

                      1. re: Schpsychman

                        The thing about Pho 32 in K-town (and its other locations in Queens and Jersey) is that it's a Korean spin on pho. Pho is popular among Koreans, but they've tweaked and lightened the broth, toning down some of the less familiar spices (which can include star anise, cinnamon, clove, coriander seed) and added accompaniments like kimchi. I sometimes join Korean friends at Pho 32, and enjoy it well enough, but I don't go in expecting authentic Vietnamese pho.

                        1. re: squid kun

                          squidkun, you are so generous with pho32! giving them a "pass" at taking a korean spin doesn't excuse the garbage garnishes, overcooked noodles and one-note broth (tasted like 10 minutes of boiling water to heat the noodles with a generous shake of ajinomoto, seriously). the place is really really bad. avoid. avoid.

                          1. re: bigjeff

                            I reviewed the St Marks branch and actually liked it better than you, but found the overabundance of noodles and paucity of other ingredients unacceptable.

                            1. re: Pan

                              ya noodles were VERY generous. but they are too cheap with ingredients and wow, that broth was just so lips-tingling bad.

                          2. re: squid kun

                            I'm Korean-American and my whole family loves pho. I must agree with bigjeff that neither their intended audience nor the heritage of its owners excuses the poor offerings at Pho32. I am familiar with what squid kun is saying re: Koreans lack of familiarity with some spices, etc. but still. A few hours after my one trip to Pho32, I had huge hives pop up on my face from all the MSG they put in the broth! Some of my friends who dined with me that night had major bloating issues the next morning from the MSG, as well. Unacceptable!

                        2. re: jimboyoo

                          hahaha-- as a new yorker, it pains me to say there is anything in LA that beats out what we've got in new york but there are a few comfort foods that i look fwd to when i'm there: in-n-out, el pollo loco, pho999 and tito's tacos (and, really, any mexican food anywhere in california is better than most you can find here). sorry to go off topic!

                          re: cong ly's broth, when i first started eating there in college-- when the really friendly old man with the long face, freckles (liver spots?) and big glasses was still running the place-- the broth was clear and delicious! i moved away for a few years, but since i've been back, i've only seen him there once and it looked like the years had taken their toll-- and somehow also added a LOT of fat/oil to the broth.

                          but i don't have a lot to compare it to because i've been pretty loyal to cong ly.

                          1. re: vicktoire

                            I get pho at congly fairly regularly, and he's always been there. The broth can definitely be on the fatty side, but it seems to depend on the day. Regardless, it's still the best pho I've had in Manhattan.

                            Xe lua is also pretty decent.

                        3. re: vicktoire

                          yum, the fattier the better! need you be reminded that if pho stock is fatty and oily it most likely means it's made from real beef bones. other pho stocks that are less oily usually have pho stock powder and/or pho paste added to it to bring in more flavor.

                          it's oil and fat are essential to the dish.

                        4. I'll throw in my 2 cents, for whatever it's worth - I've had bad or indifferent pho at some of the places mentioned across the board (disclaimer: never tried Cong Ly though, but I'm planning to) with the most disappointing one being the one highly praised by Robert Sietsema in an article some time ago. Obviously, memorable bad.
                          My favs so far remain Nam Son and Nha Trang Centre (I tried the Baxter a few times and I find their food ok but not the same with Centre, it might be a matter of taste in the end).
                          These 2 places have been consistently good, never too salty, never fatty, never bland. Just my opinion.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: RedVelvet

                            I had the first pho on the menu (the big bowl with all kinds of meat - I suppose it was brisket, navel, omosa, tendon) at Nha Trang Centre tonight, and it was totally fine, as far as I was concerned. I won't claim it's fantastic and unbelievable, but it hit the spot.

                            1. re: Pan

                              I totally agree. It's not the best a pho can be, but it's consistently good.
                              And because it appears we have similar taste, I'll go slightly off-topic here and say that my latest fav dish at Nha Trang Centre is crispy squid. Really, really good.

                              1. re: RedVelvet

                                I appreciate the recommendation. I forgot to mention that the pho I had yesterday also had tripe in it.

                            2. re: RedVelvet

                              Maybe it was the meat I ordered since almost every other table was having their pho, but when I tried Nam Son, I thought the broth tasted off, almost musty.

                              1. re: JungMann

                                I don't know what to say, we always get the "everything beef" and never complained about the broth. If anything, I'd put Nam Son's broth a notch above Nha Trang.

                            3. Hi all!

                              There's two new Pho restaurants in C-Town, both near Mott and Pell.

                              One of them is called Pho So 1 - http://tinyurl.com/czffa4
                              I've been twice and I think the Pho is excellent there as far as New York Pho goes - I have a photo I can upload later (-:

                              I can't remember the name of the other new one which opened just a couple feet away, but want to try

                              Has anyone tried them?

                              1. Just tried Xe Lua for the first time on the mentions in this thread. I thought it was pretty good, certainly one of the best I've had in Chinatown, if not the best. The broth was clean-tasting with sharp flavors (I added the squirts of lime and sriracha and basil, that might have helped) and the #1 Xe Lua Pho doesn't skimp on the meat. There were nice beefy slices of well, beef, a tiny bit of tripe/omosa and a halved fish (?) ball. The sprouts and basil they gave you with the pho were clean and fresh-looking (more than I can say about some other places). I'd definitely go back. The weird tropical mural/decor and funky menu always made me hesitate to try it, but I think this will be my go-to pho place. Haven't tried Cong Ly.

                                1. You should definitely go to 11 Mott Restaurant "Pho so 1". Their pho is EXCELLENT! Fresh ingredients! Tasty! I go there almost 5 times a week!

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: tonyn

                                    ugh! had such a bad experience there after reading many positive reviews; willing to give it another try of course . . . . in the meantime, try New Tu Do for another contender perhaps.

                                    1. re: bigjeff

                                      another nice meal at New Tu Do last night; pho with beef round and tendon (purty alright, didn't really add any table seasonings); nice pork meatballs over bun (so rich those meatballs), an app of strips of rice cakes (sorta), fried in a big egg omelette with dried radish, fried onion or garlic on top, served with a strange red clear liquid dipping sauce. trying to remember the name of the dish but it didn't have an english translation next to it on the menu; will report back if I remember but it was yummy! reminded me of the taiwanese dish of just dried radish fried with egg. making my way slowly through the menu, there is a pork congee that looks fascinating, complete with chinese cruller and various pig parts. their curry chicken with bread is good too.

                                      1. re: bigjeff

                                        Is the new location less dingy? At the old place across the street, the spoons that they kept in the boxes were caked with rice and other crud. My coworker and I went thru an entire box (20ish spoons) and each one was covered in dried food. Finally had to get up and grab some from a different table. The first row was also grimy but the second row looked ok. Spent the next 5 minutes washing the spoon and chopsticks with tea. That's all I remember of my visit.

                                        1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                          nasty! can't say I really pay attention when I reach in the box but . . . the place is pretty snazzy ya, I'd say it's pretty clean, looks quite nice. gross tho! give it a shot tho . . .

                                          1. re: bigjeff

                                            I went for lunch today. Vast improvement over the old space. The utensils were clean! The flavors of the no. 1 combo (pho) compares favorably to the other two places in the area, Nam Son and Cong Ly. The bowl seems to be considerably larger with more broth/noodles. Decent grilled pork chops and crispy spring rolls. It's also not as crowded as Nam Son or Cong Ly so there's not as much noise.

                                            1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                              ya I been hearing that their No. 1 is bigger than other place's No. 1s. I really enjoyed the soup I had; the name totally escapes me but it is available on the menu under the glass, all vietnamese (but written in english), a glass noodle soup with couple diff. kinds of pork, seafood, kinda sweet, served with lettuce as garnish; I'm sure you could ask the waitstaff which one that is; very nice alternative to the pho.

                                              glad you made it!

                                              1. re: bigjeff

                                                that soup sounds interesting. ill give it a try the next time i go.

                                                1. re: bigjeff

                                                  I had that soup today. Thanks for the recommendation! The chicken broth they use is a lot tastier than the beef one the No. 1 comes in. I also liked the large pieces of scallions/celery floating in there and I normally detest celery. The quail eggs were very good too. There wasn't too much pork and one lonely shrimp. A couple of fishballs that were so so but overall, it was pretty good. The next time I go, i think i'm going to ask for the No 1 combo in that chicken broth and tell them to toss in a few of those quail eggs also.

                                                  1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                                    ah yes, the quail eggs; forgot about that, yes! it's a little sweet, and they use random bits of meat; when I had it, they had little fried pieces of pork fat, like 0.25" cubes of fried crispy fat. yum!

                                                    1. re: bigjeff

                                                      Glad to hear that New Tu Do has spruced up and is still tasty. It was one of the places that I used to go to for pho before finding Pho Bang. Now that the cold weather is coming back, I can anticipate lots of pho outings.

                                                      1. re: windycity

                                                        Definitely give it a shot. I don't know how it's possible but that broth is getting better each time I have it.

                                                        1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                                          Went to New Tu Do for lunch. I got the XL Tai Gau and only managed to finish half. There was a lot of meat. I'd forgotten about their semi-sweet tasting broth, heavily scented with star anise. It was good, and IIRC, better than before. Not sure it beats Pho Bang but it's a contender. I liked it better and it was a lighter broth than the Cong Ly one which was overly dense. I think of Pho Bang as somewhere in the happy middle.

                                    2. Went to several over the past few weeks. Two favorites are New Tu Do and Pho Grand, though Viet Huang was also good. New Tu Do has a larger bowl (the No .1 combo) with more noodles, Pho Grand's No. 1 combo has a somewhat smaller bowl and less noodles but lots of meat and other pieces.

                                      1. I am surprised nobody's mentioned them before, but An Choi in the LES serves a great bowl of pho. I think it's underrated because their banh mi's have been getting the attention, and they also charge a premium ($9-$9.50 per bowl vs. the $5 or $6 that people are used to). Also, they currently only do the "normal" cuts of beef and chicken (i.e., no tripe, for example). But you are rewarded with high-quality ingredients; I think their broth (both beef and chicken) is fantastic - not too greasy, but with great depth of flavor. Also, they manage the little details, like pre-boiling the bean sprouts before put them on a side plate for you.

                                        1. After a visit to Pho Bang on Mott, I'd say skip it. Broth wasn't oily but it was lacking full flavor. Broth was pretty mild-tasting, and needed tons of tinkering with to come up with good heat, flavor, etc. This place was pretty bustling while I went, but I'd rather go to Xe Lua.

                                          Also, strangely, the bun here is way different from other places I've been to in C-town. Instead of pickled veggies and lettuce, this bun was noodles topped with sauteed onions. The beef was kind of this dry shredded-looking sort. Is this more 'authentic'? I prefer the other versions.

                                          Xe Lua
                                          86 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

                                          Pho Bang
                                          157 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: janethepain

                                            We went to Xe Lua the other night, after having gone a few times over the past six months or so. We think the spot has the best Viet "food" around. Their Pho is very good, but we actually go for the more substantial dishes. Their rolls are all great, excellent fried calamari, tofu sautéed with lemon grass and chili, beef on watercress, sautéed asparagus with garlic, other similar dishes. Incredibly one waiter there, Mario, is one of the best friendliest waiters anywhere.

                                            Xe Lua
                                            86 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

                                            Viet Cafe
                                            345 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013