Fool for Pho 

In search of the right noodle soup.

Vietnam 1
6215 W. Broad St.
Daily 9:30 a.m.- 9 p.m.

If pressed to pick a favorite pho restaurant, I'd have to cast my vote for this "newcomer" run by Nancy and Hai Huynh, who opened it three months ago after selling the Saigon Gourmet on the South Side. The soup bowls are bigger, the plates of bean sprouts and basil are piled higher, and the lighter, more delicately seasoned broths in the soups ($5.75) suit my taste better. I have also become completely enamored of Vietnam 1's shrimp, chicken and pork soup that has both rice and egg noodles ($5.75), because it gives me the best of both soup worlds — Chinese, with pork and egg noodles, and Vietnamese, with the shrimp, chicken and rice noodles.

Pho 79
6909 Staples Mill Road
Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

At Pho 79, they know how to cater to noodle soup newbies who may not know if they want "tendon" or "bible tripe" (which comes from a cow's third stomach) in their beef pho. The menu is organized into three sections that take the diner from lean cuts of flank and brisket to the chewier, more flavorful pieces of meat that can be added to the soup (small $5.55, large $6.25). Lest the descriptions leave you squeamish, know that the meat used in the soups is good quality — from the shaved slices of round steak that are flash-cooked when the broth is added to the textured strips of flank. Owner Troy Vo prides himself on the ingredients used, even going so far as to "import" the secret ingredients for his broth from his parents' restaurant, also called Pho 79, in Virginia Beach.

Vin Phat6311 Rigsby Road
Monday-Friday 10 a.m.- 9 p.m.Saturday, Sunday 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Tucked behind the 7-Eleven on Horsepen Road lies a Vietnamese enclave that's home to a pool hall, a small grocery and Vin Phat restaurant, which Binh and Tina Nguyen opened in 1997. The low-ceilinged space and mismatched dishware make the space feel homey, and the soups at Vin Phat have a more home-style flavor as well. The beef broth is dark and richly laced with cinnamon and star anise. (These were the two most prominent flavors — Tina Nguyen declined to reveal any of the others for fear of revealing her recipe.) But the beverages provide the real draw of this little spot. Legend Brown Ale ($5.75 for 22 ounces) to go with the soup, and bubble tea ($3.50) for dessert are two surprisingly hip offerings for a spot that was hard to find. S

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