Pho Real

Pho might well be the ideal fast food.

If you're feeling especially hungry or ambitious, you can order pho con rong cháu tiên, which includes the eye round, brisket, meatballs and oxtail as well as tendon and tripe. (You can also get this without oxtail, though if you're willing to eat tendon and tripe, I can't imagine why you'd object to oxtail.)

When I ordered this, I figured I'd receive just a little bit of each kind of meat. That wasn't the case; there was a lot of meat in this pho. Too much, really. The subtle flavors of the herbs, especially, were buried. Despite its fearsome reputation, the tripe was innocuous, more texture than taste. The tendon, on the other hand, was nothing but texture: chewy, squishy — like a molten Gummi bear.

I'll skip the tendon next time. But part of what makes pho so enjoyable is that it's customizable. Even if you know exactly what you do and don't like, you'll never eat the same pho twice.

Soup is great food: Pho Long owner Long Kim Hua 
(foreground) and regular customer Thuy-Lieu Vo (seated).
Jennifer Silverberg
Soup is great food: Pho Long owner Long Kim Hua (foreground) and regular customer Thuy-Lieu Vo (seated).

Location Info

Map

Pho Long

8629 Olive Bvd.
University City, MO 63132

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Olive Boulevard

Details

Pho Long
8613 Olive Boulevard, Olivette; 314-997-1218. Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun.

Pho with eye round steak and beef meatball $7.50
Pho with oxtail $7.50
Pho con rong cháu tiên $9.50

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With every order comes a dish with a big pile of bean sprouts, basil, ngo gai (an herb similar to cilantro in flavor), sliced jalapeño chiles and a lime wedge. I add everything but the bean sprouts. Even after they've been dunked in the broth, they still have that raw vegetable flavor, which I find distracting — though when the pho is as good as Pho Long's, I'll usually toss in a handful at the end to prolong the experience. I also like healthy squeezes of hoisin sauce and sriracha, the bright red Thai hot sauce.

Still, I worry sometimes that I haven't got the proportion of hoisin to sriracha to lime to jalapeño. And that's why I send you to Pho Long with a note of caution. Sort of like the ideal cheeseburger and French fries that Michael Pollan describes, you may find yourself obsessively chasing the perfect bowl of pho. This, thankfully, is a pursuit that gets better with every happy meal.

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