pho good - Than Brothers
I discovered pho soup at the end of a horrid relationship. When we broke up, we listed the places we thought we might run into each other: Hollywood Video (replaced by Netflix, thank god,) Fred Meyer on Broadway (replaced by a giant new multi-level QFC,) and Pho Than Brothers' (still there.) It took 2 years for it to happen, but when it did it was a full on, in your face, no avoiding contact kind of run into. We both approached the cashier at the same moment. I had about 2 seconds to look at him before he turned his head and saw me standing there, mouth agape. In those 2 seconds my brain struggled to verify the information my optic nerve was feeding it, accessing memory files, checking and double-checking systems, preparing for fight or flight. The look that crossed his face upon seeing me revealed that he was suffering a similar systems crash. We said some non-commital things. Then the cashier took his attention and while he payed for his take out order I slipped away to the bathroom. There wasn't anything else to say. When I came out he was gone and I was free again. As I walked home with my belly full of soup, I realized with some surprise that I had avoided feigning interest in how he might be doing or apologizing for not attempting to contact him. He had done the same. I think it may have been one of our truest moments together and a fitting reunion for two people so wrong for each other.
Than Brothers has soup only, in sizes from small to extra large (I DARE you!) and from veggie to tripe and tendon. Since I've sworn off beef I can't attest to numbers C1 to C14. I love the mushrooms that come in the Veggie but I love the chicken broth. So it's a small chicken w/mushrooms for me. The small is $3.85 and for my mushrooms I shell out an additional 65 cents.
After you've been pointed to a numbered table, be ready to order when the waiter arrives a moment later with the plate of add-ins (thai basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges and sliced jalepenos,) and the Banh Choux a la cream (cream puffs.) DON'T EAT THEM YET!! GOD! If you aren't ready to order, you may have to wait until some other waiter takes pity on you and comes over. That first guy probably isn't coming back. Well, maybe he will. Don't chance it. Order the number 11 coffee. Do it. Hopefully the waiter will return with your coffee set up right away: a glass of ice with a long spoon and a small diner style juice glass with a half inch of condensed milk at the bottom and a small silver dispenser filled with coffee grounds in hot water placed on top. This will drip hot coffee into the condensed milk while you are eating your meal.
After the coffee arrives, say to your dining partner, "My god, what's taking so long?!" at which point your soup will arrive. Total elapsed time from entry into the restaurant: 4 minutes.
If you planned in advance you will already have your napkins, chopsticks, spoon and spoon rest at the ready. When the hot steaming bowl is placed in front of you, begin by adding your basil, sprouts, lime and jalepenos as you like. Don't forget your condiment caddy. Here you will find chili oil - not as hot as you might think, try it, hoisin sauce, Sriracha (cock sauce,) and salt and pepper. Try starting with small amounts of each and go nuts as you figure out what you like. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT EAT YOUR SOUP PLAIN OR MY FRIEND NAOMI CAMPBELL WILL KICK YOUR ASS. She's a mean bitch when you don't spice up your soup. She's the photographer, not the supermodel, by the way.
After a few minutes of slurping and sipping, you may find a spice buzz overtakes you. Go with it. Sweat out all that pent up stress. When you've had your fill of soup, prepare your coffee by stirring the mixture in the small glass and pouring it into the glass of ice. Okay, now you're ready to cool down with your iced coffee and puff. Yes, now you eat the puff.