The cold and rainy weather has got me on a soup kick. A Pho soup kick, specifically. Pho (pronounced ‘fuh?’) is a Vietnamese soup usually made with beef, fish or other kinds of gross fleshy bits, rice noodles, and an amazing broth spiced with cinnamon, star anise, charred ginger, cloves, garlic and usually garnished with green and white onions, cilantro, Thai basil, lime, bean sprouts and some kinda hot sauce or chili on the side. The broth is usually made from meat and bones, so you either need to make your own or seek out restaurants that make it vegetarian, including the broth.
So back to my Pho cravings, I’ve had it already twice in the past couple of days at two different restaurants. Allow me to present my findings.
Pho adventure #1: Blossom Restaurant, Downtown.
Appetizer first please. This is the “Vegetarian Fritters”, which are sweet potatoes, mushrooms and tofu. Served with mint, veggies and a tasty sweet chili type sauce. Very nice, light and not at all greasy.
Ok, now here’s the garnishes mentioned earlier. We have a lovely plate of fresh bean sprouts, basil leaves, some kind of very spicy green chili, and lime wedges. There’s also plenty of Sriracha, soy sauce, hoisin and other condiments over on the side as well to be added as per your liking.
And here’s the pholicious bowl of steaming hot pho, made with tofu, mushrooms, carrots, baby bok choi, cilantro, a ton of rice noodles underneath it all… and lots of green and white onions. I don’t do onions, and there’s like a raging onion party going on in my bowl. No need to panic. The thing is, I appreciate the flavor they give food, I just don’t like the things themselves. So after a serious onion hunt and extraction expedition, my soup was ready to be topped with all the extra goodies, and then was heartily consumed.
The soup was delicious, the ambiance of Blossom smack in the middle of downtown can’t be beat, and it’s only a very short walk from the Pershing Square Metro stop, and everything else.
That was last weekend. Today I woke with another rager for Pho. I still need to try the Vietnamese Soy Cafe in Silver Lake which is all vegetarian, but they keep funky hours, and I was hungry now. A quick search online and then a few phone calls later I tracked down a location right here in the valley serving vegetarian Pho.
Pho adventure #2: “Absolutely PHObulous” in Encino.
Despite the silly name, this place was awesome. First up, vegetarian spring rolls. Delicious, packed with vermicelli, fresh veggies and herbs. The dipping sauce was some sort of peanuty love.
Here’s the photastic pho as it was served. This version comes with tofu, carrots, broccoli and baby bok choy. And yeah, enough onions to feed a small village in Somalia for a year. No problem. I’m a professional. Below is my creation after I’d had my way with it…
I also squirted in a healthy dose of spicy Sriracha this time around (after I took the picture). This pho was great. Very nice to know this place is tasty and doesn’t involve me having to go over (or under) the hill. They have a West Hollywood location as well.
Neither of these two restaurants are all vegetarian, but there are a number of vegetarian and vegan options at both that will more than satisfy.
A recent edition of Vegetarian Times magazine had a vegan recipe for Pho, and I’ve found a few different versions online that look good too. My craving has far from passed so I think I’ll try making up some of my own soon.Related Posts:
- Miso soup with tofu
- Forrest Whitaker, tofu and me.
- Another visit to Vinh Loi Tofu
- Non-GMO soybeans for the win.
- Cream of Asparagus and Fennel soup