April 16, 2012

Soup-o-rama: Thanh Thanh 2 Pho

For this month's o-rama theme of soup, I went with to Thanh Thanh 2 on Forest Avenue and ordered some pho. Ordering soup in a restaurant can frequently be an uninspired affair, so I figured the much lauded pho at Thanh Thanh 2 would be a worthwhile assignment. 

Turns out the spring rolls were rather uninspired, served with a thick peanut dipping sauce that was so viscous it sucked the lettuce out of the roll on contact. 

But the pho was hearty and warming - and definitely something that I could not easily recreate at home. So this dish met my criteria for ordering soup in a restaurant.  

I ordered a small pho ($6.50) with rare steak and meatballs, which was enough for lunch and leftovers. The pho broth was a meaty, yet light, sweet and salty mix, with poured over thinly sliced rare beef steak that cooks in the hot broth. 

The pho noodles are a small vermicelli type and sink under the meat and sliced onions. The soup is garnished with cilantro and scallions, and comes with an additional plate of garnish of basil, large bean sprouts, and sliced jalapenos. 

I love the side plate of add ons; having a small plate of veggies to add made me happy in a choose-your-own-adventure kind of way. 

Too frequently, soup at a restaurant is over salted to make up for a lack of complex flavors, and it's rare that you find a soup that makes you stop and wonder how they got so much flavor into one spoonful. But this pho, with its layered base of stock, variety of ingredients, and hearty flavor is a soup that is beyond my culinary grasp and kept me guessing between slurps.