In Vietnam noodles are eaten from morning until night. Breakfast noodle soups start the day and bowls of pho from street vendors make belly-settling, late-night snacks. Pronounced as “fuh” from the French pot a feu, this is the signature dish at Pho Vi in Hollywood, bringing rice noodles in bone broth heady with the scent of star anise and cinnamon. Paper-thin cuts of rare beef float on top.
Owner Danny Nguyen named his place Pho Vi after the ubiquitous soup and his 5-year-old daughter, Vi (meaning “little lovely”). He was born in Tra Vinh in the Mekong Delta and grew up in Southern California where his family settled. He joined an uncle in South Florida and worked at his Chinese restaurant until opening his own place six months ago. His wife and mother-in-law cook home-style dishes.
Consuming bowls of beef pho means slurping up supple rice noodles with the help of chopsticks and a ceramic spoon for the broth. Dia rau song is a side plate of bean sprouts, fresh mint and Thai basil for adding cool contrast to the broth with a squeeze of lime. Beef choices include meatballs, round eye steak, brisket and flank or a combo of all. There’s also grilled shrimp, shredded chicken or pork patties in lemongrass broth.
Bun bowls bring rice vermicelli salad topped with grilled meat or shrimp and mint, ground peanuts and chile-garlic sauce. Cha gio are fried spring rolls for wrapping in lettuce and dipping in tangy sauce. Viet subs (banh mi) are layered with pate, meats, pickles, jalapeno slices and cilantro. Che ba mau is a sweet bean soup with custard-like mung bean paste and coconut milk served in a glass for a sweet end.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.