#54: Pho at Pho Long

Sep 16, 2010 at 3:34 pm
A bowl of pho at Pho Long - Ian Froeb
Ian Froeb
A bowl of pho at Pho Long
Ian Froeb
A bowl of pho at Pho Long
Three and a half years after it opened, tiny, modest Pho Long remains an important part of the St. Louis dining scene. Indeed, Pho Long is important precisely because of its small size and limited menu. Here is a Vietnamese restaurant with enough confidence in its own product and in public interest to specialize in a single dish, the beef-noodle soup pho.

The pho at Pho Long is spectacular. The broth, simmered overnight, is deeply flavored with a melange of spices and the bright burst of scallion even before you add your desired amounts of cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, raw jalapeño, bean sprouts and freshly squeezed lime juice. Those additions are a deeply personal matter. Every pho aficionado has his or her own ratio. I, for one, always skip the bean sprouts and usually add squirt or two of sriracha sauce for extra heat.

At Pho Long, you can choose from several different meats or combinations of meats: sliced eye-round steak, brisket, meatballs, oxtail, tendon and tripe. Today, I went with the most basic variety, pho tai, gossamer slices of beef that are raw when added to the soup, blushing pink at the center by the time they reach the table.

Beef, rice noodles, herbs: In the end, all of these are mere vehicles for that magical broth, a surefire cure for congestion, hangovers and, soon, the cold, bleak days of a St. Louis winter.

Pho Long
8613 Olive Boulevard, University City

I'm counting down -- in no particular order -- 100 of my favorite dishes in St. Louis. Some are well-known, others obscure. Some are expensive, others dirt cheap. All of them, I guarantee, are delicious. Please do not hesitate to share your own favorites via the comments thread.


#55: Gyro at Anthonino's Taverna
#56: The Lemon Drop Cupcake at the Cup
#57: Pupusas at Tres Banderas
#58: Gumbo at the Gumbo Shop
#59: The burger at Newstead Tower Public House
#60: Quesadillas tradicionales at Milagro Modern Mexican

#61: "7th Street Sicilian" Po' Boy at Blues City Deli
#62: Tamales at Taqueria la Pasadita
#63: Ćevapi at Bosna Gold
#64: Lemon meringue and pine nut torte at BitterSweet Bakery
#65: Chile Morita con Puerco at Señor Pique
#66: Soda chanh duong (sparkling lemonade) at Lemon Grass
#67: Nachos grande at Nachomama's
#68: Pizza with pepperoni, sausage and mushroom at Pizza-a-Go-Go
#69: Bill's "Burger Meister Burger" at Cardwell's at the Plaza
#70: Sake (salmon) nigiri sushi at Nobu's Japanese Restaurant