FL vs CA: Pho
One thing Debra and I can always agree on is our love of phở. I mean one of the major reasons we traveled to Vietnam in the first place was our love of Vietnamese food! You can never go wrong with a good bowl of hot noodle soup. Plus while most types of Asian cuisine are hard to find in this area of Florida, there are quite a few Vietnamese restaurants. So it’s nice that I can actually find good phở in this area! As for California...it goes without saying that there are many a Vietnamese restaurant where you can get delicious phở.
Kettles Vietnamese Bistro
1202 W Steele Ln
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Phở Tái (w/ meatballs): I love phở. I love broth and soups, and I can drink them any day any time. Since we've come back from Vietnam, I'm more inclined to have some type of noodle soup on a hot day.
Kettles is a favorite of mine's and my roommate's for delicious phở! Santa Rosa has a couple of Vietnamese restaurants- however I find that the broth at Kettles is flavorful and simply heartwarming. I always get my steak on the side** because I discovered that by the time my bowl of piping hot phở comes to the table, the steak is super overcooked, and that's not my jam. [Natalia: I agree, got to have that steak on the side!] The side ingredients are plentiful (the lime, jalapenos, bean sprouts, Thai basil), and I feel like the cost is appropriate. The meatballs don't taste funky or old, and the thin slices of beef, once cooked to medium broth via the hot broth, are tender. I wouldn't say they melt in your mouth, but they're definitely not hard to chew. Overall, I love coming here when I need a pick-me-up or when it's cold or hot- basically, phở is great of any occasion!
** Some restaurants may not understand "steak on the side," so do be careful when asking for it and always clarify if it'll cost extra.
Biển Đông Oriental Supermarket
3510 Mobile Hwy
Pensacola, FL 32505
Bún bò Huế: I come to this market for grocery shopping normally (produce, noodles, eggs, ect.), and it was a few visits before I tried out their restaurant. Such a great decision! Bun bo hue is different from regular pho, it’s just as rich; however it has red spicy beef broth. The order I got was semi-spicy, but they kindly gave me a little dish of chili sauce to add as needed (lets just say I added it all…). The soup had plenty of noodles, thicker than regular pho noodles, and a surprisingly good amount of meat, lots of sliced shank and oxtail. They make a top notch broth at this place, excellent flavour. I didn’t need to add any sauces besides the extra chili sauce. No cubes of pork blood in their version of bun bo hue (traditionally it would have the blood cubes). I didn’t even notice it wasn’t included, the soup tasted that good!
Bánh bao: I wish I had a photo, but everytime I buy a bao it's basically already in my mouth. It’s a problem. One of the reasons I love this market is because they actually have fresh bao, no other place in town seems to have them. Biển Đông’s steamed buns are normally filled with savory meat and a quail egg--so delicious! They definitely keep me coming back for more.