On a recent trip to the USA, we were keen to check out the local phở scene and see what America had to offer, that responsibility fell on the not so little West coast city of Seattle in the state of Washington.
We were really excited to understand both the differences and similarities of USA phở, there are a lot of commonalities that make phở, phở…but it’s the little local differences that make it interesting.
New Saigon was tucked away down a set of stairs in bustling ‘downtown’ (aka ‘the city’), the dining space was large and fairly ambient occupied by a ton of Seakhawks fans (NFL) as it was game day with Kenny G playing softly in the background.
The menu had a lot of traditional Vietnamese dishes on offer including ample vegetarian options. The list of phở was fairly standard, however the meat was cooked to taste e.g. rare, medium and well done which was a bit interesting.
I opted for the old favourite of beef brisket and my partner tried the vegetarian, service was fairly unmemorable but efficient and the food came quickly.
When it comes to side sauces there is not alot of difference from Australia: Chilli sauce, Soy and fish sauce are available, but Hoisin isn’t on offer.
The sides were fresh and plentiful; Basil and sprouts with lime, it also came with jalapeño peppers, which was a bit of fun, but were extremely weak (pre-cut too early).
So how was the phở?
A little boring really, the stock was light in colour and flavour, and there may have had some chicken in it. The flavour was weak and didn’t feel like it had been cooked the fairly common 12hours plus.
The meat was plentiful and appropriately cooked, rice noodles were small and thin and a bit mushy. Overall the dish was bland and boring, sauces and condiments were mandatory to give it some excitement.
By contrast the vegetarian phở was pretty interesting, containing: Tofu, Carrots , Bok Choy, Mushrooms, Broccoli and sliced onion. It succeeded where many (dare I say most) vegetarian phở fail, it had flavour, it didn’t really require condiments.
Overall disappointing, but try the vegetarian.
1. Stock: 2 – Weak and flavourless, condiments required
2. Inside: 4 – meet cooked to order, and comes in amble quantities
3. On the side: 3 – Everything was fresh, Jalapeno’s were fun but weak
4. Extras: 3 – Some ambiance, plenty of vegetarian options, tea was ok