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What is Pho?

The aromatic lure of pho, the noodle soup staple of Vietnamese cuisine, has enticed fans of the fragrant dish across the United States and continues to grow in international appeal.  Pho is as central to everyday Vietnamese cuisine as chicken noodle and cheeseburgers are to American cookery. In Vietnam, it's both comfort food and convenience food, simmered all day in big pots in family kitchens, served on every street corner and offered up for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snacks.

On the surface, pho appears to be a simple combination of rice noodles, slow-cooked broth and sliced meat. But as with any culinary classic, the devil is in the details, and the dish's quality changes dramatically depending on the flavor and clarity of the traditionally beef-based broth, the cut of the noodles, the preparation of the meat additions and the freshness of the accompanying garnishes.

Eating pho can be a two-handed challenge for the initiate, involving both chopsticks to grab the noodles and a spoon to scoop the broth. Pho garnishes typically are fresh basil, fresh chili, lime wedges and bean sprouts, presented at the table and added to a bowl of pho according to each person's taste. Additional condiments commonly found on the Vietnamese pho restaurant table are Vietnamese fish sauce, or nuoc mam; hoisin sauce; and sriracha chili sauce.

If you're a veteran connoisseur of authentic pho or if you're a beginner looking to try something different, come in and enjoy this epicurean delight.

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