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Best Pho?

Couldn't locate a previous discussion, but I'm wondering where THE BEST PHO in the area is served?

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  1. You're going to get 100 answers on this one so by the end, every restaurant that serves can say "Named Best on Chow."

    But since you asked and I'm the one responding, I'd say Ngon on University Avenue. I actually think that is one of the best restaurants in all of St. Paul right now. I prefer the pork version as the broth tastes like you are drinking bacon. It's one of my favorite dishes in town.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Db Cooper

      Haven't had Ngon, but I do love Quang - the broth never disappoints, but I have to admit I usually get their egg noodle soups.

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      Quang Pastry & Deli
      2719 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

      1. re: SmartCookie

        Ngon or Quang for me. You might get 100 recommendations, but you can't go wrong with those two. Quang has the better components, Ngon has a richer broth.

        A place called Pho Tan Phat in Spring Park is third. The rest, including PTB, Jasmine, Kim Ahn, etc... is generally solid. Not sure I'd trust Mai Village with it, or any of the non-Viet places.

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        Mai Village
        394 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55103

        1. re: kevin47

          I need to speak up for Mai Village...or against it, rather. The broth is very one dimensional, and it is expensive. I was not impressed. I've also run into the problem of inconsistency. Sometimes the noodles are perfectly cooked, sometimes waay over cooked.

          I really like Bangkok Thai Deli's Pho, actually. Ngon's is probably the best though for the broth.

          1. re: linfr21

            Completely agree with your take on Mai Village. The only reason I've ever come up with for why people go there for the mediocre (at best) food is that it was one of the first places to invest serious cash in the neighborhood and its proximity to the Capitol.

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            Mai Village
            394 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55103

        2. re: SmartCookie

          Another vote for Ngon and Quang.

          Quang is our go-to, Ngon on Tuesdays.

        3. My humble opinion ranks Pho Tau Bay as having the best overall pho broth.... but I do make special trips to Ngon for their pork pho (heu tieu, maybe it's called? Get it with the roasted chicken!).

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          Pho Tau Bay
          2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

          1. I've had both Quang and Pho Tau Bay in the last month or two and I've got to say PTB of the two. I cannot comment beyond those two. I liked the condiment options better at PTB, not just a bottle of srirasha...they also gave me lemons instead of limes. Is that even 'normal'?

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            Pho Tau Bay
            2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

            4 Replies
            1. re: MayrMN

              Me too for Pho Tau Bay over Quang. In St. Paul, I like Saigon for everything, especially non-pho dishes, but the pho is better at Pho Ca Dao (if it's still there?).

              I would class the pho at Ngon as upscale/fusion pho. It's lovely, but isn't in the same category as the "traditional" pho places for me.

              Re the lemon/lime situation - I think it depends on the price of limes. If the price shoots up (which it does from time to time), you get lemons instead.

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              Pho Ca Dao Restaurant
              439 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55103

              Pho Tau Bay
              2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

              1. re: AnneInMpls

                Thus the old adage, "if life hands you lemons, make pho." I'm long overdue for a visit to Pho Tau Bay. I haven't been since their remodel. I hang my head in shame. Definitely PTB over Quang.

                ~TDQ

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                Pho Tau Bay
                2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  Pho Ca Dao was still there as of 5 months ago.

                  I usually wind up a Saigon for pho, since my new daughter likes the beef fried rice and spring rolls there the best.

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                  Saigon Restaurant & Bakery
                  704 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                  1. re: Uisge

                    I forgot about Pho Ca Dao. It is still there. Cheap, flavorful pho. You know it must be good when you are the only non-Vietnamese in the place.

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                    Pho Ca Dao Restaurant
                    439 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55103

              2. My goto place for Pho is the Pho 79 which is located in a strip mall on Energy Park drive near 280 in St. Paul. Consistently very high quality with excellent broth in the pho. Other places which I like are Pho Tau Bay, Quangs and Saigon.

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                Pho 79 Restaurant
                2233 Energy Park Dr Ste 800, Saint Paul, MN 55108

                Pho Tau Bay
                2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                8 Replies
                1. re: dalewest

                  Pho 79 is my go-to as well, for the excellent broth, and because I could crawl there in 10 minutes if I have an emergency pho craving! But: I've noticed lately that the side garnishes are getting a little, well...stingy. Or maybe, less varied. I know pho is truly *about* the broth, but the quality of the garnish plate is of interest to me as well. (Hate to highjack the thread in the direction of garnishing, but I'd love to hear the garnish plate mentioned a bit more in the overall pho discussion.) Any one of those you listed stand out in that regard?

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                  Pho 79 Restaurant
                  2233 Energy Park Dr Ste 800, Saint Paul, MN 55108

                  1. re: cayjohan

                    Funny you should say that it's about the broth-- brings up an interesting story. My wife and I have always wondered how anyone ate the larger sizes of pho, given that the smallest size at, say, Saigon, is a full meal. The answer, at least according to one knowledgable person, was that the broth is just the medium for eating the noodles and such, and that much of it is left behind. That's not to say the broth is not important....

                    1. re: mtullius

                      I could be completely wrong, but I've heard the similar belief that the broth is simply a carrier of the rest of the ingredients. I've also heard it doesn't matter. Personally, I eat EVERYTHING, except the Lime rinds. :) The broth is my favorite part, because it gets so rippin' spicy with the addition of the optional hot sauces.

                      When looking at Pho recipes, it sounds like the most time, effort and care is put in to making the broth itself. It'd be a shame to let all that hard work go to waste!

                      1. re: pete.jake

                        I very much agree on the time/effort/care issues with producing pho broth, which is why I'm so glad to be able to grab it close-by. For what it's worth, after I eat my fill of all the add-ins to and with the broth, I usually take the broth home and augment it with bits of herbs/veg from the fridge for breakfast the next day. And I usually have plenty, as (as mtullius noted) the pho servings are rather generous. No complaint here - I hate to see a fine broth go to waste!

                      2. re: mtullius

                        You are correct. Traditionally, the broth is there to keep everything hot and flavor the noodles.

                        You'll see what places have the Pho eating challenges, drinking the broth is not part of the challenge (also when I look around the dining room, I'm the only person using the spoon to slurp the broth, the Vietnamese diners use it to hold under their noodles to keep from splashing themselves...which is brilliant).

                        1. re: Foureyes137

                          I always fake like I'm doing that so I can mix the noodles and broth in a single bite without looking like an imbecile.

                          I like to play with my food, and the broth gives me a chance to mess around with the different sauces and such. Further insofar as it drives the flavor of everything else, it's pretty important.

                          But yeah, I really love the broth at Quang and Ngon. PTB is more generous with the accompaniments, but you can order more at Quang for .50 cents, which (as it happens) brings the total cost to what PTB charges.

                      3. re: cayjohan

                        I am not sure what you are missing at Pho 79 in terms of garnish. Sprouts, Basil, Lime and Jalapeno peppers are all there. I have maybe received some different colored peppers in the past which are pretty but probably don't effect taste much. What are you missing? If you want more basil or something you should let them know. They will probably bring it to you upon request.

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                        Pho 79 Restaurant
                        2233 Energy Park Dr Ste 800, Saint Paul, MN 55108

                      4. I really enjoyed the pho I had at Asian Deli a few weeks ago - the broth has a stronger anise flavor than most others, which is a good thing in my book. There's not much for variety - they only have two versions (regular or special) - but it's good stuff!

                        I also love the pho at Trieu Chau - theirs is a very well balanced broth.

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                        Trieu Chau Restaurant
                        500 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55103

                        Asian Deli
                        388 Western Ave N, St Paul, MN 55103

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: diesel

                          Pho Tau Bay all the way. I'm not from Minnesota, but it seems like when people say "Minnesota nice," they mean that so-and-so seems nice enough but that niceness did not hark a greater, nourishing depth to it.
                          This is what I feel about Quang. It is the Minnesota nice to Pho Tau Bay's Kentucky charm. I'm not from Kentucky either, though, so that analogy could be totally asinine.

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                          Pho Tau Bay
                          2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408