A Bowl of Pho That Warmed My Heart

I don't even know the name of this restaurant (or stall?) but their pho will always remain in my mind.

Do not ask me where this resto precisely located, also. As it stated in my previous post (read it here), mom and I went there very late at night. We were tired, sleepy, and bit hungry, no focus at all.. haha.. Only one thing I noticed, the street is not too wide and definitely empty that night. I assumed this is residential area with not-so-many shops or restos around. 
Thankfully we had a Hanoi citizen as a guide, and he knew his city very well. Soon, the car stopped in front of a simple resto on the street side which still open till late.

Dunno which one is the resto's name

Anthony -our guide- offered phở for our late dinner and we accepted. I ate pho once at a mall in Jakarta long time ago, so (I think) I knew what pho it is. I imagined this kind of warm soupy dish would be perfect tonight. From 3 choices of pho: chicken-beef-pork, we simply chose chicken and pork pho. Anthony ordered the food for us and he spoke Viet to the pho man behind the serving booth. Hmm, could the pho man speak English? I tried to talk directly to him, asked for chicken breast to put in my pho. Ah, just as I assumed, he didn't understand. Then our perceptive guide came and explain what I want in their language. From this lil case, I guessed this resto usually serves local people around its location, that's why the seller cannot speak English. Just guessing, once again, 'coz I was too tired to ask more about this matter to the guide.

Pho man in action

Considering the high price of land in Hanoi, this resto looked quite spacious. I think this is a family-owned resto whose owner live in the same place, seems from messy things here and there, just like an ordinary home. Few tables arranged lengthwise in a row as the dining table for customers, with simple chairs on the left and right side. Another row consists of different type of table with some plastic stools around. Dining tools, tissues, and some condiments already available on the table. Their cleanliness level could be categorised on average level, as I saw some used tissues on the floor, but I was satisfied enough with their cleanliness at the serving booth. This condition were not too different with traditional food stalls called "warung" or "kedai" in Indonesia, so we had no problem at all. We still can enjoy it!

I walked inside and sat on a chair. Mom sat next to me and our guide in front of us. He pointed to the wall behind us, and when we turned we saw stacks of big jars with reptiles inside, preserved in wine. Oh.. ok, so people here still "believe" on traditional medicine like that, kinda similar with some people in Indonesia. It was not a big surprise for me, but still interesting. However, curiosity beat my laziness (and tiredness) as I came closer to see them clearly. See it? There's a cobra inside!
Wanna try some?

Anthony accompanied us while waiting for the dish, chit-chat a little, also shown us something inside a small bowl on the table. It was pink lime, halved. He said this one is a bit rare, tastes not too sour, and more expensive than the usual white lime. So interesting and cute IMO, just can't wait to squeeze it into our pho.

Don't be afraid, I'm not that sour!

Two bowls of pho served in minutes, hot and very inviting to taste. Another thing we noticed, they came in big portion! O.. oww.. bit afraid on how to finish them, but we gonna try our best *grin*

Each bowl topped with chicken or pork slices, and they only use fresh meats to serve the customer. We can felt the freshness of the meat in the dish. According to our guide, most of Hanoi people don't like frozen or chilled meats sold in supermarket. They prefer to buy fresh meats from traditional market. Especially for chicken, customer can choose a living chicken then the seller would cut it directly in front of the customer.

Back to the dish, it came to tasting time! We sipped its clear broth soup slowly, hmm.. it was delicious, light, and not too salty. The rice noodles itself were thin and flat, bigger than vermicelli but smoother in texture. Lots of greens sprinkled on the top added fragrant aroma to the soup, but I didn't like a kind of leaf which tasted too strong (and quirky!) in my palate. We added soy sauce and pink lime's juice to make it perfect. Special for my bowl only, I added pinch of crushed chilli to make it slightly hot. Yumm...

A bowl of pho that warmed my heart

At the end, we could not finish them. Please do forgive us, pho, we didn't mean to waste you that way. Anthony told us, "In Vietnam, if you cannot finish the food, just leave it, it's okay", but still, we felt guilty.

It was around 11.30 PM when we finished. We left that place with satisfaction, happy tummy, and warmed heart.


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