I hate Pho.
Here in the Washington DC region, many people seem to go crazy over Vietnamese Pho. For those that don’t know, Pho (pronounced feh, as in ‘feh..this tastes like dishwater’) is a Vietnamese noodle soup served in a giant bucket, composed of 90% salty water, 4% undercooked, soggy flavorless meat, 4% noodle, and 2% tasteless vegetables.
Below is a handy diagram demonstrating a typical serving of Pho to it’s approximate taste.
Pho restaurants abound in DC. Everyone just seems to LOVE it. I do not understand the appeal? And before you say “oh you just haven’t had good pho” I have indeed tried pho at several different places, and did not like. I’m sorry, but gigantic kiddie-pool size servings of salty water with noodles and soggy flavorless meat is just NOT good to me. To me this is like me saying “I really hate getting punched in the testicles” and you responding with “well, you just haven’t had a really good punch to the testicle then”
It tastes like nothing. It is watery. I can taste something salty yes, maybe its salt from beef stock, maybe its salt from a fish stock of some kind, but you cant specify. It is just watery salty nothingness. There is some merciful spattering of flavor here and there, like basil and lemon. But that is about it. Many Pho eaters use plentiful amounts of hot sauce as well when eating Pho. Gee I wonder why, perhaps it is because your food has absolutely no flavor?
Vietnam has been cursed and blessed throughout the centuries, from the indochin war, to the Vietnam war, to the Khmer Rouge war, to a presidential palace that resembles lemon-flavored Pez candy, to the technological achievement of creating a humanoid robot that is capable of playing ping-pong, Vietnam has done it all.
However, Vietnam is forever cursed by one thing: the inability to create any food that tastes better than swamp water.
As Anthony Bourdaine wrote about Vietnamese cuisine:
Animal parts that are often disposed of in many Western countries are utilized fully in Vietnamese cooking.
Delicious Organs, including the lungs, liver, hearts, noodle-like intestines and bladders of pigs, cows and chickens are sold at a higher price than their actual edible meat. Chicken testicles and undeveloped eggs are served as an everyday dish.
Many of the traditional dishes involve the use of pig heads (mmm), tongues (mmm), throats (yum!) and feet (why not?). chicken heads, necks and feet are Vietnamese favorite beer dishes. Steamed pig brains (I prefer steamed over chocolate-coated) can be found anywhere along a Vietnamese street.
It’s bizarre that a nation that obviously normally cooks really delicious food using only the best ingredients would generate something as bland, tasteless, and repulsive-looking as Pho.
If you think I am kidding about the dead rotting animal floating in a chemical preservative as an approximate taste comparison to Pho, let me introduce you to Vietnamese snake wine:
*update* funny and true story, scientists recently discovered a new species of lizard at a Vietnamese lunch buffet. leave it to the Vietnamese to make Onion articles legit!
While I am on the topic, may I suggest a Pho restaurant name?
“Pho plus Pho equals ate”
Another good rant on how much vietnamese food sucks: