HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


What's in your pho?

I like brisket and well done flank, sometimes with some tendon. I add some basil leaves, bean sprout and Siracha. Nothing too fancy. I I've seen people squirt all kinds of stuff in a soup spoon and then dip their meats in the sauce. What do you do with all the garnish and condiments?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I like the one with everything (rare eye of round, well done flank, fatty brisket, tendon, tripe), and add in the bean sprouts and basil, saw tooth herb if they have them, with a squeeze of lime. Add in the Sriracha and fish sauce and I'm done.

    7 Replies
    1. re: dpan

      Eating pho can be dangerous if you order certain meats because some of the meats are placed rare into the broth just before serving.

      By no means is the broth coming out boiling hot like in a korean dolsot.

      Unfortunately, I suffered big time a long time ago at Pho 75 in Rosslyn.

      I'm surprised there aren't more incidences of e-coli and salmonella (raw veggies).

      1. re: Chownut

        I suffered the same fate at Pho 75 a few months ago. My boyfriend -- who did not have any of the raw stuff -- was fine. I learned my lesson...

        1. re: hamster

          Interesting info here. Thanks for the tip.

        2. re: Chownut

          Hmmm, I suffered a terrible - uh - "gastro-enterolgical upheaval" the night after I had Pho at a local Pho house - Vietopia. I thought it was just a bug but maybe not?

          1. re: cuccubear

            Seems like a scary pattern for pho joints.

          2. re: Chownut

            that's scary - Pho Tai (rare beef) is my favorite.....should I be concerned?

            Incidentally, Pho 75 was the first place I ever had pho years and years ago

            1. re: chicaraleigh

              You take your life in your own hands when you eat in a dining establishment that serves raw beef as part of the $5 cost for the product. Don't expect the freshest and best cut of meat.

        3. I like my pho chock full of savory goodness. Give me everything - but I'll have the raw meat on the side.

          Meatballs, tripe, tendon, brisket - whatever they're offering, I'm gonna try it. Squeeze of lime, lots of sprouts, break up the cilantro and whatever bitter greens they're offering, break up a couple of jalapeno slices, a small dollop of hot chile sauce and mix it all together.

          I prefer though to take several sips of the broth before adding to determine how much to add.

          And I like the raw beef on the side, dressed with lime juice, salt, pepper, sriracha, and soy sauce. I let it marinade while I eat the pho and then enjoy it with a side of hot steamed rice.

          6 Replies
          1. re: onocoffee

            So, you're eating the beef raw? I know the lime juice and salt and sriracha might kill some of the bacteria like in a ceviche, but still....

            1. re: Chownut

              My understanding was that in many cases the problem with raw beef was with raw *ground* beef. Does anyone know whether this was the case?

              1. re: Louise

                Gosh no.

                My experience was from those Steak-Ummm style slices, not ground beef.

                1. re: Louise

                  most of the bad stuff only thrives in the presence of oxygen, that is the big problem with ground beef, almost all of the meat is exposed to the air. With the thin sliced rare/raw beef in pho, ASSUMING it has been sliced immediately before being served, then it should be reasonably safe. If it has been pre sliced and is sitting around somewhere waiting to be plated, then you are more likely to have food poisoning issues.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    Yeah, I was looking into this a while ago; basically the bacteria live on the surface of the meat, and are unable to penetrate into the centre because of the density of fibres. With ground beef, the outside itsn't really the outside anymore - the bacteria spreads throughout, and it absolutely must be cooked through.

                    1. re: Soop

                      I seriously doubt if the meat at pho joints is sliced per order.

                      You don't get high end steak tartare quality meat at a $5/bowl pho joint.

                      Be realistic.

            2. Like onocoffee, I take sips as I go - especially the first one to see how it came out straight from the kitchen.

              I add black pepper, sriracha, basil (or sawtooth), bean sprouts, jalapenos.

              Note - basil should be added a bit at a time as you go. There was a great writeup in a SF paper a few years ago that gave a lot of detail about history, regional differences, common approaches, etc.

              1. I like flank, tendon (but only if sliced thinly), and tripe. Generally I'm too lazy to do the refined thing of dipping my meat into a spoon full of condiments, so I squirt sriracha and add the basil or sawtooth plus the jalapenos directly into the broth.

                1. Raw whatever it is, plus tripe. The raw stuff gets dipped in hoisin sauce.

                  I like my broth unadulterated. Tried the tendon a few times, liked it at first then eh. Brisket is ok, maybe if I'm feeling like a change. A little fickleness is good in the kitchen, or the pho bowl.

                  1. I go for dac biet, add bo vien, keep the bo tai on the side so it stays rare. I only go to places I trust to have a good broth, either by previous experience or on word of mouth. I eat it with just the broth and some herbs, bean sprouts, and green chilies, and dip the bo vien in a mixture of tuong ot and hoisin. I might add a squirt of lime to the broth if it needs a tiny lift. After a while, to change the flavor, I will add a dash of tuong ot and hoisin if necessary.

                    1. i start out at pho 75, get the large number 10 (eye of round and fatty brisket) and tell them to add bo vien (meatballs).

                      i think the broth (at least at pho 75) is pretty close to perfect like it is. i dont want to ruin the delicateness of it by pouring in sriracha or hoisin.

                      so i tear up a bunch of basil, and drop in a bunch of sprouts. squeeze in a little lime. stir it all up. drink some broth.

                      then i take a second spoon and fill it up with hoisin and sriracha, then cover that in black pepper. i stir it up with the chopsticks.

                      i dip the meats and some of the noodles/sprouts in the hoisin/sriracha/pepper mix and eat them. then i drink some broth. repeat.

                      finish it off with a ca phe sua da or however you spell it. mmm.

                      great now i'm craving it.

                      also seriously, is pho a great hangover remedy or best hangover remedy? cures me up every time.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kneelconqueso

                        As along as the broth is not laced with MSG, which can cause hangovers b/c it dries the system out.

                        The broth stock is not made fresh every day. At times, some places replenish the broth by adding water and MSG.

                        I was lucky my food poisoning wasn't as bad as it could have been. As soon as I felt queasy, I got that stuff out of my body pronto. If you try to tough it out and your body digests what you ate, then you will suffer for days.

                        1. re: Chownut

                          And I generally regard Pho 75 as performing this practice as needed - hence I've stayed away for years. Especially after busy rushes. I liked them a few years go but now haven't gone in 4-5.

                          Of course - the opposite could happen in the smaller joints I now favor.

                      2. Am a big fan of the kitchen sink versions of pho, throw everything in (flank, brisket, meatballs, tendon, tripe). Definitely sprouts to give it some crunch, hot sauce (whatever they have on hand), squeeze of lime and then toss in the wedge, basil/sawtooth. Herbage goes in only after slurping some soup to adjust for taste.

                        Gosh, getting hungry thinking about it.

                        1. I always taste the soup first without adding anything just to see if the soup is good. Even my favorite pho joints seem to have some off days where the soup is bland. I always add the siracha though, since I'm pretty much use to eating pho with it. I'll have to try the lime juice. I've added the hot peppers before but I can't taste it (probably because I already added the siracha).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ericandblueboy

                            My favorite is Pho Ga - and I will add leaves of whatever herbs are provided and lime juice after tasting the broth.

                          2. My preference is just the raw beef. I do pile in the bean sprouts starting with just a light handful, cilantro and onions. Sometimes I want to chewiness of meatballs. When I am at a place that has great broth I do not squirt in the hoisin or the Sriracha, though I may toss in some of the fresh jalapeno slices. I will take a piece of the meat and squirt a little of the sauces on, then maybe add a few noodles and a little broth to the spoon and slurp. I just do not like to muddy the whole bowl up. I also like to take the basil leaves if they are large and make a packet of meat and sauce and fresh chili, chew in one mouthful and follow with broth and noodles. I really need to get down to my favorite place....

                            1. lime. totally essential. hoisin only goes in beef pho for me, not chicken.

                                1. I always order Pho Thai. I love the rare beef slices and have found that 99% of the time the broth is hot enough to more or less cook the beef through if I put it in right away. Thus, I either leave the beef on top (if it's already in the bowl) or wait a bit to put it into the broth as I don't want it quite cooked through. Beyond that, I always put in some sliced chilies, basil and (after tasting the broth) some amount of lime juice and I often add some fish sauce. I usually add a squeeze of sriracha to the bowl as well. I never add bean sprouts as I really like the soft texture of the noodles and don't like the crunchy contrast from the sprouts in this case. I dip some of the beef in hoisin as I eat.

                                  At home, we usually make pho with duck stock and I always add white or yellow onion slices and cilantro in addition to the same things as I wrote above. The onions and cilantro are pretty commonly already in the bowls of pho I get in a restaurant.

                                  1. Always meatballs, basil and bean sprouts. Bean sprouts go in to the broth in batches so they retain their crisp.
                                    Other than that depends on broth maybe sriracha or meatballs/friends of meatballs have enjoyed a touch of hoisin.

                                    1. Hard to believe nobody's plumping for the addition of ngoc pin. In some circles, it's a must!

                                      1. Assuming that the broth is good, I add only the basil and cilantro. I eat the brisket (and sometimes raw beef) from the broth with bites of raw green chili. I cleanse my palate with bean sprouts. After the meat is gone, I dump the rest of the sprouts in and finish the soup. I never add condiments to the soup. Nothing like a good bowl of pho unless it's a VN iced coffee chaser.

                                        1. Well I usually have the raw beef one, I like it served on the side so it doesn't cook that much when I put it in.

                                          I put the usual basil leafs, bean sprouts, Siracha, and lime, I really like lime.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: AngelSanctuary

                                            I'm with you there. I like my beef rare and my broth very sour. In the spoon, I draw a yin-yang of hoisin and Sriracha to season my beef and sprouts and like to have extra cilantro for an even stronger flavor.

                                          2. Pho Tai is my absolute favorite - I add lime, sprouts, basil (or whatever they have on the plate that day) a few jalapeno slices to the bowl. The hoisin and Sriracha go into a dipping bowl or spoon.

                                            I dip my chopsticks into the mix then pickup a mouthful of goodness.

                                            I save the broth for last.......