I know I’ve written about pho before but I want to mention it one more time. This hearty, aromatic, delicious, and addictive offering from Asia is now enjoyed by millions of people who are not Asian. While this is good, I often see people eat pho in a way that tragically denies them the maximum amount of enjoyment they could be getting.
A lot of people get the bowl of pho and then proceed to just use their chopsticks to pick up noodles and the beef to get these items into their mouth. The spoon, which every pho house provides, is left used. This is a critical mistake. The missing element here is the broth. The pho broth is the essence of pho. It’s the ingredient that makes or breaks any bowl of pho. To leave it sitting in the bowl while you pick up noodles and beef is a sign that perhaps you don’t understand what pho is all about.
The best way to eat pho is with both chopsticks and a spoon. Start by dipping the spoon into broth, filling it slightly. Then use your chopsticks to round out the spoon with noodles, beef, onions, green onions, and whatever other items you might have in the bowl. Then proceed to shovel the contents of the spoon into your mouth. The importance here is to savour the broth with the rest of the ingredients of the pho. Each spoonful should be a small scale representation of the whole bowl. It should have a bit of broth, a bit of noodle, a bit of meat, and so forth. Using just your chopsticks gives you a coarse and unsatisfying interpretation of your meal. One bite of all meat and then one bite of all noodles, that’s not how pho deserves to be appreciated.
Try it out the next time you get pho!