Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The PHO-nomenal Blog! A review of Wichita's Best Phở!

If I could only choose one meal to eat for the rest of my life, I'd probably lean heavily towards Phở.
Phở pronounced (fuh, as in it rhymes with duh) is a Vietnamese noodle soup, usually served with beef or chicken. The soup is a broth that includes rice noodles and can be served with Vietnamese basil, onions, lime, and bean sprouts. In some cases, the broth is boiling hot and the noodles are just thrown in along with the meat and it's cooked in there on the spot.

Phở is Vietnamese for "Holy Cow this is fricken good" but do not quote me on that. I was raised on Phở most of my life. I don't remember loving it as a kid. I think I just took it for granted since either my mother or my aunt made it all the time. It wasn't until after I moved out that I began to truly appreciate its greatness.

Wichita has a pretty large Vietnamese base so it's no wonder that Phở has its fans here in the city. Given my qualifications and years of experience in Phở, I figured I have earned myself a PhD in Phở. So the past two weeks, it was my goal to find the best Phở on the northeast side of Wichita including downtown. It was my intention to only choose this area because I honestly haven't heard of many good Phở restaurants anywhere else in Wichita plus if it was that good, I think I may have heard it of it by now. IF there happens to be a better Phở restaurant outside of this area I set, I'll definitely go check it out.

All of these places are located north of Kellogg and eat of Broadway. It was my intention to stop by each of these places within a 14 day span so I had it all fresh in my mind what I liked most. Plus to be honest with everybody, the past 14 day my mother has been out of town so the "Free Stop By The Rents For Phở" was not possible. I've tried to cook it myself and it just doesn't taste the same so with her out of town and me craving it like a pregnant woman, things kind of worked out that I could eat Phở almost every other day but not for free.

Phở Hein
1750 North Broadway Street, Wichita, KS
(316) 264-1708

Saigon
1103 N Broadway St, Wichita, KS
(316) 262-8134

Little Saigon
1015 N. Broadway, Wichita, KS
(316) 265-0054

Phở Hot Bistro
306 N Rock Rd # 70, Wichita, KS
(316) 440-6698

Tsunami
6254 E 37th ST. N #180, Wichita, KS
(316) 425-3866

My Thở
500 E Central Ave, Wichita, KS
(316) 262-5452

It's pretty hard to mess up Phở. All it includes is mostly broth, meat and noodles but to make an excellent is another thing. The key quality to great Phở is the broth. At least that's what my mother tells me but I believe her. So in going to each of these six places, that was the biggest deciding factor. Plus the quality of meat they used was taken into play.

Each of the six places I went to, I tried to order the same thing. The largest Phở bowl they had with whichever meat they offered whether it was sliced beef, flank steak or whatever. If the option for tripe or tendon was there, I took it. I'm not big into chicken or shrimp in my Phở nor do I like basil or bean sprouts. So it was all kept really simple outside of the hoisin sauce I used in the Phở.

So below is my list of least favorite Phở's to most favorite. On the Wichita By E.B. twitter site (http://www.twitter.com/wichitabyeb), many people shared their opinions through the past two weeks on their favorite Phở. I was surprised at how many different responses I received so this may shock some of you as well.
 
One common theme that all six places had in common was the quickness it took the meal out to you. I mean, seriously, come on. Have a lot of boiling broth ready at all times, dump in the meat and noodles and serve. Also, every place I went into was very friendly. Pretty sure I received smiles from everybody (must be my new haircut!). On to the list:

Number 6
Saigon
Probably the least favorite of the group. The broth seemed very water and their hoisin sauce bottles were runny as well. I ordered the sliced beef Phở and the beef was very chewy, lacked flavor. It wasn't horrible by any means but on the flipside I wouldn't call it better than good either. There are three Phở restaurants on Broadway within a few blocks of each other and I'd probably stray away from this one compared to the other two.
Saigon
Number 5
Tsunami
Tsunami offers all sorts of Asian dishes and I wouldn't consider them a specialty in the Phở department. They are really all about convenience and location since they are really the only restaurant in the far northeast side of Wichita that offers Phở. Their broth is about average and their meat is pretty good. They put meatballs in their Phở like many places but I'm just not a big fan of them. Their Phở lacks a lot of noodles so halfway into the meal, you'll wonder what happened to everything that was in the bowl. They do have great service though as I've touched upon in my 37th and Woodlawn Asian Haven blog. Unfortunately there are still better Phở options out there.
Tsunami
Number 4
Phở Hot Bistro
 I was kind of disappointed after my meal. There used to be a second location out south which is now Phở Special. When I was at their east Harry location which was just called Phở Hot, it wasn't that bad. I ordered their large bowl and their broth was probably the most watery and flavor lacking out of the six places outside of Saigon but their beef slices made up for it. Very tender! They put more noodles into their bowl than Tsunami as well.  
Phở Hot Bistro
 Number 3
Little Saigon
I think there are three tiers for great Phở restaurants. You have Saigon, Tsunami and Phở Hot Bistro in Tier 3. Then in tier 2, you have all by themselves Little Saigon. I went in there for lunch and they draw quite a lunch crowd; it was much busier than Saigon which is literally a block north of this place. Their broth was better than the three aforementioned places, their meat was good. Overall it was good Phở, a place I'd be willing to go to and recommend. Even during dinner, they seem to draw more traffic when I was driving by the other night on Broadway (not that I drive down Broadway on a regular basis or anything)...... I'd recommend this spot but there are two you should probably check out before that.

Little Saigon
 Number 2
My Thở
This was very tough deciding between number 2 and 1. It's totally a matter of preference. My Thở belongs in Tier One of Phở spots in Wichita. Of the six places I went to, My Thở was BY FAR the friendliest of the group. They have a plethora of Phở options and maintain a good sized lunch crowd. I very much enjoyed their Phở, the broth is great and the meat is flavorful. Please note My Thở only takes cash.
My Thở
Number 1
Phở Hein
Closing out the list and being top dog in Phở is Phở Hein over on North Broadway. They slightly edged out My Thở is the rankings of Phở. Their broth was my favorite and their meat is very good too. I'm pretty sure they had the largest selection of Phở options to choose from so you should be able to find something you like IF you like Phở. Phở Hein also only accepts cash as well. As Randy Moss would say, "Straight cash homie."

I'll be totally honest, I totally forgot to take a picture at Phở Hein
but I was able to find this one on the internet.
 In the end, Phở Hein and My Thở are the two best spots in Wichita. You really can't go wrong with either one.

There you have it folks, two weeks of eating Phở all bound into one blog. This was by far my favorite and tasty adventure. If you haven't had Phở before, I'd suggest you all try it once. I've met some people who didn't like it, some who don't prefer it but a majority who loved it. Price-wise you will be spending around $6-9 for a bowl of Phở. Anything over $10 is a rip-off. That is, of course, if you're eating out because making it at home is much cheaper than going out.

I hope you all enjoyed the blog as much as I did (well not possible because I was the one eating).

Remember to check out the other blog written this week on U Grill!
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!  Happy Dining All!

All comments are appreciated.

2 comments:

Stephanie said...

My Tho is my favorite. Nice blog!

tara said...

pho hot is my fave - yummy yum yum