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Friday, December 02, 2005

Pho Nguyen

It'd been too long. Phô Nguyen serves the best Vietnamese noodle soup in Lincoln and I hadn't been there in two years. It's right there in the strip mall south of Imperial Palace on 27th St. and I've probably driven past it 100 times since my last visit. It took a craving for Phô, a lack of groceries at home and some laziness to get us there but it won't take that again.

There's really nothing better than a big bowl of Phô on a freezing December night. It arrives quickly, quickly enough that it still has an effect on the chill you brought in with you. I had the soup with the eye of round, flank and tendon while Sarah had the eye of round. We both shied away from the many combinations incorporating tripe. Eating tripe is too meta for me. I've tried it in both Phô and menudo and I don't think I'll ever develop a taste for it.

The warming effect of the soup was lost on me a little bit as I ordered hot Vietnamese coffee with my meal instead of the iced. Sarah ordered melon bubble tea and it was interesting to feel the contrast of taking a big sip of the soup and then following it with a slurp of the cold tea. I'd always avoided the bubble tea at these places because I find sucking big pieces of tapioca through a straw almost as unnatural as eating guts. I tried it though, just for the hot/cold effect and found I liked it. The tapioca wasn't as weird as I expected and the melon flavor of the tea was quite good; almost on par with the flavor of melon Gatorade™.

The soup, though, is the reason to go. The broth is from a secret recipe which I'm guessing uses oxtail as the base with some ginger, cardamom and other spices. It's good enough to drink. In fact, I could envision a night of drinking with friends in which each shot of ice-cold Stoli is followed by a shot of Phô broth.

One of the reasons Phô Nguyen does soup so good is they don't do a whole lot else. They have the Vietnamese sandwich, Bahn Mi, which I've seen on the Food Network and always wanted to try but wind up getting the soup because it's so good. Maybe next time.

Phô Nguyen is owned and operated by Alex Tran and his wife. I used to work with Alex at Ameritas 5 years ago and he's a great guy. He seems to know food, too, because he always found his way to my department for our monthly potlucks.

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