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Pho Bac

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Pan Dec 25, 2010 09:15 PM

I went to Pho Bac in Elmhurst for the 2nd time tonight. The first time, which I believe was some time last summer or late spring, was a huge, wonderful blowout meal as part of a party of 5. Today, we were 4 people and ordered less, but still plenty.

6. Small order of Cha Gio (Spring Rolls)

These were just as delicious as last time, so flavorful and so different from average spring rolls.

16. Large order of Goi Du Du Tom Thit (Shrimp & Pork W. Green Papaya Salad)

This was very nice. We had wanted the salad with beef jerky, but they were out of beef jerky.

25. Large order of Pho Tai Gau (Combination rice noodles, beef soup with rare beef and brisket)

This is so far superior to average Manhattan Pho that it almost tastes like something completely different. It was so aromatic with cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, and probably other spices I couldn't isolate. The hot sauce in the plastic bottle only improved it further.

47. Com Suon Nuong (Grilled Pork Chop on Rice)

This was fantastic, wonderful, and just plain great! :-) The pork chop was so flavorful, and slightly caramelized. The banh mi at this place must be delicious!

84. Muc Xao Cai Chua (Squid Sautéed w. Sour Mustard Greens)

Sadly, this was a clinker. None of us liked it much. My brother found it unpleasantly fishy, and I thought it was way too salty to eat. Some was left over at the end.

121. Ga Xao Xa Ot (Chicken Lemongrass - boneless chicken sautéed with lemongrass, onion, & hot chili sauce)

This was somewhat salty but delicious! It was the only genuinely spicy dish we got, flecked with bits of dried hot pepper, redolent with pulverized lemongrass. Really good dish.

Overall, except for the squid dish, another very good, very worthwhile meal.

We followed up with a visit to Al-Naimat in Jackson Heights for sweets, which I have posted about separately: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755657

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Pho Bac
82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

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  1. bigjeff RE: Pan Dec 26, 2010 04:26 PM

    glad you like this spot; this is my queens pho spot; many a lovely lunch here.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bigjeff
      EricMM RE: bigjeff Dec 26, 2010 04:59 PM

      I like it too....but I don't think it's anywhere near as good as the Viet places on Mulberry St, south of Canal.

      1. re: EricMM
        bigjeff RE: EricMM Dec 26, 2010 06:29 PM

        xe lua? or the fancier one down the block with the big room? I can't remember the name but, the place in the basement that replaced Sweet n Tart (on Mott) was pretty bad. anyway, it's all bad, to be honest; New Tu Do has disappointed as well; boring, this topic of manhattan pho right? I don't bother to look anymore.

        1. re: bigjeff
          EricMM RE: bigjeff Dec 26, 2010 07:14 PM

          I like Pho Viet Huong at the south end of Mulberry near the park, and the one at the north near Canal...must be the one you mentioned because the name has an "X" in it. However, I must admit that I'm not a pho person....I go for all the grilled stuff. My kids prefer Pho Viet Huong, I prefer Xe Lua...it has the best grilled quail I have tasted anywhere.

          1. re: EricMM
            p
            Pan RE: EricMM Dec 26, 2010 08:00 PM

            I'll have to give it another chance, but I wasn't that impressed any of the times I went there a few years ago.

    2. d
      Daniel76 RE: Pan Dec 28, 2010 05:42 AM

      I found the pho to be watery with very little flavor.. I also found it to be filled with so much MSG.. I have heard of people complaining before about MSG but, have never experienced those feelings before.. I had a terrible headache for several hours..

      The Bahn Mi is very good there however, the bun and pho ranged from bad to average.. The pork chop over rice is good but, it's rare to find a version that isnt good.

      Staff has also been miserable the few times i went..

      I only go for Bahn Mi these days which, is stupid cheap

      31 Replies
      1. re: Daniel76
        E Eto RE: Daniel76 Dec 28, 2010 08:56 AM

        As it's been mentioned on the several threads about MSG, it probably wasn't MSG that caused your headache, but probably something else. Regarding the pho, Pho Bac has been my regular spot for over a decade now, and represents the best option for Vietnamese around this part of Queens. Some might call it watery and flavorless, but I call it well-balanced or subtle, especially over those places that overpower the broth with spices. The banh mi is surprisingly decent, and a good bargain, like you say. As I've been hyping for a good decade, the crab asparagus soup is still one of my favorite things on the menu.

        When I lived in Manhattan in the 90s, Viet Huong was my usual place. They've expanded their menu quite a bit since their humble days. I really didn't care for their 7 bo mon (beef 7 ways)... perhaps overreaching? Haven't been there in years, but I wouldn't deem it any better than Pho Bac.

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        Pho Bac
        82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

        1. re: E Eto
          daffyduck RE: E Eto Dec 31, 2010 08:53 PM

          yeah. i like Pho Bac as well. but a few i've taken there found it bland. but i think it's delicious.

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          Pho Bac
          82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

        2. re: Daniel76
          p
          Pan RE: Daniel76 Jan 6, 2011 10:29 PM

          OK, we seem to have a real disagreement here. I went back to Pho Bac today, for a late lunch with my father. At your recommendation, we got a Banh Mi, and we also shared a small bowl of Pho - I think it was #29 (rare eye round, brisket, navel, tendon, and omosa, I believe, and what is omosa, anyway?) - and a small order of Cha Gio. The Pho and the Cha Gio were delicious again, and much appreciated by both of us. The Banh Mi was very disappointing, and I don't think the fact that they gave it to us medium-spicy at most was the problem (I helped the taste a lot by adding a lot more hot sauce and several pieces of jalapenos). Not only have I had way better banh mi at Banh Mi Saigon Bakery in Manhattan's Chinatown, but even my standby in the East Village, Baoguette, is way tastier. So while most of the dishes I've had so far at Pho Bac are solidly good to great, I would not recommend the banh mi.

          1. re: Pan
            bigjeff RE: Pan Jan 7, 2011 12:59 PM

            full report coming but yeah, that banh mi was really really really bad. I had the pork; maybe the chicken is better?

            1. re: bigjeff
              p
              Pan RE: bigjeff Jan 7, 2011 01:10 PM

              I don't know but don't plan on ever getting another sandwich there.

              1. re: bigjeff
                EricMM RE: bigjeff Jan 7, 2011 02:31 PM

                I had their banh mi once...I didn't like it.

              2. re: Pan
                Miss Needle RE: Pan Jan 7, 2011 01:30 PM

                Omosa is tripe.

                1. re: Miss Needle
                  p
                  Pan RE: Miss Needle Jan 7, 2011 02:04 PM

                  Thanks.

                  1. re: Miss Needle
                    bigjeff RE: Miss Needle Jan 7, 2011 04:49 PM

                    re: omosa as tripe:

                    one of four different kinds: cows have four different stomachs hence . . . four different kinds of tripe! that was my major discovery/epiphany while trying to decipher vietnamese pho menus.

                    1. re: bigjeff
                      Miss Needle RE: bigjeff Jan 7, 2011 05:01 PM

                      I know of three types:

                      1. honeycomb
                      2. omosa -- kind of string-like
                      3. ? -- don't have the name for it, but it's similar to honeycomb in terms of thickness but is smooth

                      Do you know what the 4th one is?

                      1. re: Miss Needle
                        p
                        Pan RE: Miss Needle Jan 7, 2011 05:22 PM

                        I think the omosa is the tripe that's thin and white and can have the consistency of plastic if not cooked long enough. They cooked it long enough.

                        1. re: Pan
                          Miss Needle RE: Pan Jan 7, 2011 05:27 PM

                          Yup! Quite fun to eat, I may add, as it adds an interesting textural element to pho.

                        2. re: Miss Needle
                          MVNYC RE: Miss Needle Jan 7, 2011 05:32 PM

                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abomasum

                          I have never come across this one though. I love the omosa, I wish it were in more dishes.

                          The Pho at Pho Bac is good but not great. I have eaten there a number of times though and it is a reliable bowl of soup. It is a little blander than I like but the beefiness is good. their Banh Mi, not so much.

                          -----
                          Pho Bac
                          82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                          1. re: MVNYC
                            Miss Needle RE: MVNYC Jan 7, 2011 05:39 PM

                            Thanks. Hmmm... wonder why we don't see it more often. Maybe it doesn't taste good -- though I have people give me the stink eye when I tell them I like tripe.

                            1. re: Miss Needle
                              MVNYC RE: Miss Needle Jan 8, 2011 08:54 AM

                              Perhaps it doesn't taste good though they do eat it in France. I wonder what the US beef industry does with it, pet food/animal feed perhaps?

                              1. re: MVNYC
                                k
                                kenito799 RE: MVNYC Mar 25, 2011 05:53 AM

                                I am quite sure it winds up in hot dogs, and maybe hamburger patties too...

                            2. re: MVNYC
                              p
                              Pan RE: MVNYC Jan 7, 2011 05:49 PM

                              Where do you get better Pho? I'd love to read your list. I hope they are accessible by subway.

                              1. re: Pan
                                MVNYC RE: Pan Jan 8, 2011 09:15 AM

                                I get better Pho in my kitchen, it is fairly easy to make though it is time consuming. Because of that I only make it a few times a year. To me Pho is like pizza, everybody has their own ideal of what a perfect bowl should be like and who is to say who is right or wrong.

                                I do get it out quite often though and Pho Bac is my choice in Queens. In Brooklyn Pho Hoai (sp?) is pretty good too. There is another place that I went to a few years back that I really liked but I can't remember what the name was for the life of me.

                                In Manhattan I like Xe Lua, Pho Bang, Cong Ly and Pho Viet Huong in roughly that order though it can vary.

                                -----
                                Pho Bang
                                4107 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

                                Pho Bac
                                82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                Pho Hoai
                                8616 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                                1. re: MVNYC
                                  d
                                  daveyj RE: MVNYC Jan 10, 2011 04:04 PM

                                  No one talks of Pho Bang...the place in the same shopping center, but stands alone closer to the street. It always seems this place is full, while Pho Bac is not. That being said, it seems Pho Bac seems to get the nod. Is it that much better? The prices seem very comparable, as does the menu. Am I missing something?

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                                  Pho Bac
                                  82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                  1. re: daveyj
                                    MVNYC RE: daveyj Jan 10, 2011 05:02 PM

                                    I haven't been to that branch of Pho Bang so I cannot comment. Give it a shot the next time you are there.

                                    -----
                                    Pho Bang
                                    4107 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

                                    1. re: daveyj
                                      bigjeff RE: daveyj Jan 11, 2011 10:23 AM

                                      re: fullness/emptiness of pho bac/bang

                                      or the other way around. I've never ever eaten at at that Pho Bang; I just have some loyalties to Pho Bac for some reason. Oh, and I believe Pho Bac has the same owners/staff as the vietnamese place in downtown Flushing across from the library; the place that is half chinese-steamtable and half-vietnamese restaurant. can't say that it helps or hinders it quality.

                                      1. re: bigjeff
                                        EricMM RE: bigjeff Jan 11, 2011 01:55 PM

                                        I have eaten at that Pho Bang. I think Pho Bac is definitely better.

                                        -----
                                        Pho Bang
                                        4107 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

                                        Pho Bac
                                        82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                        1. re: EricMM
                                          daffyduck RE: EricMM Jan 11, 2011 02:42 PM

                                          I think Pho Bac is a little better. the only problem is the pho at Pho Bac is sometimes not as hot as I like (temperature wise not spicy).

                                          -----
                                          Pho Bac
                                          82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                      2. re: daveyj
                                        g
                                        galcott RE: daveyj Jan 25, 2011 09:42 AM

                                        I haven't been to Pho Bac but I've been to Pho Bang many times. Their pho is the best I've ever tried, and I've been to Vietnam several times. The cha gio are also good but the couple of other dishes I tried were bland. I also had noticed that Pho Bac always seems relatively empty. I guess I should try it for comparison.

                                        1. re: galcott
                                          a
                                          Andy NYC RE: galcott Jan 30, 2011 11:34 PM

                                          We love Pho Bang (the place in the front) as well and eat there at least once a week. Tried Pho Bac years ago and didn't think it measured up but for some reason Pho Bang doesn't get the chowhound love???

                                          -----
                                          Pho Bang
                                          4107 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

                                          Pho Bac
                                          82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                          1. re: Andy NYC
                                            q
                                            queenseats RE: Andy NYC Jan 31, 2011 03:48 AM

                                            Agreed -- the one time I tried the pho at Pho Bac, it tasted like dirty dishwater. Pho Bang is better, but that's not saying much. I've been coming to terms with the reality that you just can't get great pho in NYC. I've been dreaming of the pho I had in Seattle over a year ago. I guess it's a good thing to know what it can taste like -- but depressing when you're craving it and can't quite hit that spot.

                                            -----
                                            Pho Bang
                                            4107 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

                                            Pho Bac
                                            82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                            1. re: queenseats
                                              z
                                              zemilideias RE: queenseats Mar 19, 2011 09:59 AM

                                              Wow; Pho Bang is so greasy, so smelly--it'sthe one in the front with the diner steup while Pho Bac in back of the shopping center next to Chinese supermarket and Penang Queens is awesome...so nicely flavored, really the best Viet food in the area

                                              -----
                                              Pho Bang
                                              4107 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

                                              Pho Bac
                                              82-78 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                                      3. re: MVNYC
                                        bobjbkln RE: MVNYC Jan 25, 2011 10:00 AM

                                        «There is another place that I went to a few years back that I really liked but I can't remember what the name was for the life of me.» Pho Tay Ho? Under the "el". Easily accessed by subway. Excellent Pho and Vietnamese dishes. But I too haven't been in a couple of years.

                                        -----
                                        Pho Tay Ho
                                        2351 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11214

                                        1. re: bobjbkln
                                          MVNYC RE: bobjbkln Jan 25, 2011 12:35 PM

                                          I just checked the map and I think that is it. I would say I went there 3 times and was pretty happy with their Pho. Now that I don't live in Brooklyn, I haven't gotten out there. Has anyone been recently?

                                          1. re: MVNYC
                                            d
                                            deabot RE: MVNYC Jan 25, 2011 03:07 PM

                                            I went this past summer for pho. It was good, very stingy on the herbs and bean sprouts though.

                            3. re: Pan
                              d
                              Daniel76 RE: Pan Jan 17, 2011 12:00 PM

                              Yeh, that is funny.. Well, from someone who goes to Vietnam Bahn Mi So #1 at least once a week for breakfast, i certainly like that place.. Also, considering it's on my route to work, how could I say no..

                              But, yeh, I hated Baoguette when I went.. Though, I only ordered the sloppy Bo and I took one bite and had to toss the thing in the garbage..

                              Oh well, if I went on a good night, or you on a bad, or whether it's personal opinion, to each his own.. Luckily for us, neither of one of us is going hungry..

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