The hottest foodie craze to hit our little Houston foodie community is probably the Pho Binh trailer at I-45 south and Beltway 8. Though it’s a good 30-40 minute drive from our house, we’ve made the trip down there for breakfast pho at least three times now. Ok, you say, that’s nothing compared to the pho-natics who go every week, natch every day. But may I remind you that I live with a (my mom calls him in a hushed voice, “very American”) stalwart who I have a difficult time dragging even to Houston chinatown? And that’s at a reasonable hour for dinner. For pho, I’m talking about a 40 minute drive for a foreign soup when we’re both hungover and cranky at 9 AM on a weekend. When we’d both rather be sleeping in. This stuff is good.
image courtesy of gary wise
My mom used to get pho all the time when I was growing up and I never understood the appeal. Perhaps it was nostalgia, or maturing tastebuds, but as I got older I developed more of a taste for it. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup based on a richly simmered broth, to which various meats and condiments are added. Meats can include rare beef, brisket, fatty and lean flank, chicken, meatballs, tripe, tendon, and so forth. The diner usually adds veggies to the hot broth to taste, which are softened and cooked in the broth. These include mint, cilantro, basil, peppers, bean sprouts, and lime. Of course, you can’t forget the siracha and oyster sauce that are also used to flavor the broth.
image courtesy of gary wise
Pho Binh does things a little differently, and until I went back to my usual pho places I didn’t fully appreciate the difference. For starters, the broth is more flavorful, less salty. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still a healthy dose of salt in the broth, but there’s also a developed flavor that comes from long simmering. The noodles have been pre-rinsed so they don’t clump, something which I never appreciated until I had unclumpy noodles. Now I can’t go back – all other noodles seem gummy and gross by comparison! Finally, the quality of the meat here is stellar. I can’t get enough of the meaty, toothsome brisket. The only flaw might be that the rare beef cooks too quickly in the hot broth, but I’ve seen people solve that by ordering the beef on the side and adding it to the broth when it’s slightly cooled. These too meats are so good I’ve yet to try the other offerings on the menu but I’ve heard nothing but praise for the rest. What it all adds up to is a hangover cure even the most American of us will drive a long way for…
Below is a little video of Pho Binh I, done by Jay Francis (@JaypFrancis). It’s a cash only, high turnover operation, as you can tell by the hustle and bustle in the kitchen. And yes, it is located in a trailer. Result? Pure awesomeness.