Pho Fight in Phoenix: Pho Thanh vs. Da Vang
There are few things more comforting than a big bowl of soup on a cold(ish) winter night. The great thing about pho (pronounced like fuh, not foh fo' the n00bz) is that you don't have to sacrifice flavor and spice for that comfort. This Vietnamese staple has blown up in the Valley over the past few years and it seems like there's a new pho house popping up on every corner.
Heather Hoch Never judge a pho place by its exterior.
For this battle, we pit two near neighboring restaurants against each other, both known for their authenticity, to see which will win. To make it a fair fight, we compared the pho tai at each place, a version that includes thinly-sliced rare beef that cooks in the hot broth from the kitchen to the table.
In This Corner: Pho Thanh
The Setup:It's always a good sign when the pho joint you choose is nestled between other Vietnamese shops, and Pho Thanh fits that bill. The restaurant is almost always full, although they cycle customers in and out quickly with efficient service and fast food prep times. The décor is pretty plain, though it has some nice elements of cheesy outdated wall decorations. Our favorites are the pictures of women knitting and sewing.
The Good:While we didn't feel the broth at Pho Thanh was anything to write home about, we always welcome generous helpings of herbs, jalapenos and lime, along with a few scoops of chili garlic sauce, to help jazz it up. One of our favorite ways to clear out our sinuses and ward away sickness in the cold(ish) months is with a super spiced up bowl of pho, and in that way, Pho Thanh provided the perfect blank canvas to build our cold remedy.
The Bad: The broth of Pho Thanh's pho tai is visibly oily. We aren't scared away by oils and fats, but we don't believe they always indicate flavor either. The noodles in the pho were also clumped together in a way that constant prodding and twirling of our chopsticks couldn't loosen. We already feel silly enough trying to use them while eating long rice noodles, without having to battle our food for a bite.