Best Approximation of Saigon

Pho Long

In America the beef-noodle soup pho usually rates its own category on Vietnamese restaurant menus. In Vietnam pho usually rates its own restaurant — or simply a stall, open to the air, full of diners slurping noodles and broth. In, say, Ho Chi Minh City, a restaurant like Pho Long would be one of many pho joints. In St. Louis it's one of a kind. Yet Pho Long's uniqueness isn't the only reason to recommend it. The pho is first-rate, the broth a beautiful balance of beef's richness and anise's sophisticated sweetness. In the true Vietnamese style, you can order pho with thinly sliced beef, meatballs, tendon and tripe, or you can select only one or two of those meats. Whatever your choice, the broth is the star, the noodles the bulk of the meal. Doctor it however you like with herbs, sliced raw jalapeño and bean sprouts, and enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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