If you are just joining me in my foodie adventures, 2023 was not kind to me, and I am ready “pho” a fun year.
I need to be wrapped in a warmhearted hug, feel rejuvenated from the inside out and find a sense of home wherever my feet and fork take me — and pho does just that.
The national dish of Vietnam will easily capture the tastebuds of all pulling up to the table. Made typically with bone broth, rice noodles, meat and a plethora of fresh veggie garnishes, pho (pronounced as “fuh”) provides all the comfort you are searching for in a big, beautiful and bountiful bowl.
I would have done anything for this spot in my early 20s. There were plenty of meals made in my jam-packed dorm room at Ohio University with the Food Network inspiring me behind the buzzing of the microwave. Watching the bowl on the turntable as I skipped another Math 101 class, I desperately tried to innovate and elevate my cheap noodles in a plastic bag.
Crazy Pho You: Pho Vegetable ($13) or Pho Rau Cai is prepared with fresh assorted vegetables, including a surplus of green onions that swim alongside delicious noodles in an abundance of flavorful broth.
Pho-Nomenal Too: Mi hoanh thanh ($13). This wonderful wonton soup can be slurped up quicker than I’d like to admit. Made with egg-cellent egg noodles, this hot bowl of heaven will make you wish our Florida winter would last a bit longer.
My bucket list items include doing a polar plunge in Chicago, rescuing as many fur babies as my husband can handle and traveling to Vietnam to meet the people my dad did business with, laughed with and made memories with over meals. When I ordered from Mia’s for the first time, I was snuggled up on my couch and had Uber Eats deliver it to my lazy Friday self. I understood why Vietnamese cuisine was so life changing.
Crazy Pho You: Pho No. 8 ($15) with fresh sliced beef. You can choose from rice or egg noodles with any pho offering, but either way it's going to remold your mind about what you thought soup was.
Pho-Nomenal Too: Seafood rice noodle soup ($15) made with rice noodles in chicken broth and a surplus of mix-ins including squid, shrimp, fish balls, crabmeat and quail eggs.
History lesson incoming: Pho originated in northern Vietnam but when the country was divided in 1954, the southern Vietnamese people evolved the national dish. The northern pho bac is served in a mild, clear bone broth with wide noodles and loads of green onions. The southern pho consists of a bolder broth with thinner noodles, more meaty ingredients, bean sprouts (my favorite!) and fresh herbs. After the Vietnam War ended, the country’s ever-changing dish made its way to other countries all over the world along with Vietnamese immigrants. Here we are in Sarasota reading (and hopefully eating) about pho.
Crazy Pho You: Pho dac biet (regular, $13.75, large $15.75) is served with rare beef, skirt or flank steak, tendon, meatball and tripe. Part of the word in Vietnamese means “special food” or “specialties” and I will let the chefs at Little Saigon keep specializing this soup.
Pho-Nomenal Too: Pho Chay (regular, $12.50, large, $14.75) made with charred vegetables and terrific tofu paired in an aromatic entrée for all vegan (and non-vegan) eaters.
Emma B. Jolly has worked at Observer Media Group for five years as the digital fulfillment specialist with previous experience at Sarasota Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and even "The Jerry Springer Show" (yes, that's right). In her spare time, she enjoys doing anything near or on the water, being a cat mama and, of course, being a foodie with her new hubby.