Me: "Ahh, Pho for lunch again?"
Nick: "How did you know?"
Me: "Elementary my dear husband...plus you've still got half of it on your shirt."
Pho is, without a doubt, one of Nick's favorite meals of all time. He would eat bowl after bowl of it for lunch when we lived in Philly...and then would come home wearing half of it on his shirt. I always knew when he had Pho for lunch.
In case you aren't a Pho Junkie or haven't run across it in your travels, Pho is a Vietnamese noodle bowl.
It's the most complex simple dish I've ever run across. At it's most basic it's just noodles in broth with your choice of protein...raw beef, cooked beef, tendon, etc. But it's really so much more than that.
The broth must be rich in flavor but light in regard to everything else. The proteins should add substance and some flavor but most importantly I think they add texture. Then you spice it up with some Sriraccha sauce and perhaps some chili paste. Throw in some fresh bean sprouts, jalapenos and thai basil for freshness and you've got a one-bowl-wonder of a meal.
Apparently Vietnam Kitchen is no secret here in Louisville because it was packed when we arrive. Much like every other restaurant I've visited that served Pho, Vietnam Kitchen was simple yet homey. Three cramped rows of tables, each piled with spicy condiments, chopsticks and spoons just begging to be dipped in a delicious bowl of Pho.
We seated ourselves and ordered two very inexpensive beers (cheap beer is always a good thing), as well as an order of pork and shrimp dumplings to start.
The dumplings were very flavorful, steamed to perfection and served on a pool of somewhat spicy and very rich sauce. I was expecting an enclosed dumpling but was surprised and pleased to see that it more closely resembled a shu mai type dumpling. They were substantial in size and for $3 were a welcome appetizer. We're off to a fantastic start!
For our mains we ordered Pho and Bun (pronounce "fuh" and "boon" respectively). Nick ordered the Pho with beef and tendon (he loves him some tendon) and I ordered the Bun.
Nick's Pho (pictured at top of page) was just as he'd hoped. A rich broth, flavorful beef and that delicious bite you get from the tendon. The noodles were of good quality as well.
Bun comes in many varieties and I ordered the Bun Thit Nuong, which is Vermicelli noodles mixed with an array of fresh vegetables (cucumber, cilantro, mint, etc.) and topped with char grilled pork and cut up spring rolls.
The pork on my Bun was smokey and delicious (the char really makes all the difference when ordering this dish). The vegetables and fish sauce added wonderful freshness and the portion was ample. The only thing I was somewhat disappointed with were my spring rolls. They were lacking in flavor and substance, but at least they were crispy.
After filling our bellies with cold beer and hot noodles we paid our very reasonable bill and left satisfied. We found comfort in the fact that we could find THIS comfort food in our new town. **P.S. Next stop is Pho Binh Minh for Banh Mi!! (Vietnamese sandwiches...I'll let you know if they're as good as the ones I've had in the past)**
Wherever I go I recommend that people broaden their culinary horizons by trying new cuisines. This is your chance folks. Head over to Vietnam Kitchen for a taste of something wonderful. I guarantee you'll be back for seconds.