When it Comes to Soups, These Are Pho and Away the Best

Columns Ono, You Know

March 6, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that the perks of being editor of Hawaii’s best foodie guide have been sneaking up on me. Parts of me that used to be fit need to be toned up a bit and honestly, if I want to be totally bikini-ready by summer, I best start exercising now.

So, I’ve increased my workouts and began cutting back on my food portions. But, and this is a big but (no pun intended), I am not sacrificing any of the good stuff, foodies, and that’s a promise!

I’ve even found the perfect solution for someone who wants it all — taste without the calories — and that’s the delicious Vietnamese noodle soup, pho (pronounced “fuh”).

So, come along with me to experience some of the best “Ono, You Know” noodle soup options — and pho puns, which are included free of charge — that our island home has to offer.

Saigon House

  • The author enjoys a bowl of pho-bulous pho with owner Mandy Nguyen at Saigon House.
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With the need for pho getting the best of me, I went straight for Saigon House on South King Street, where I knew owner Mandy Nguyen and chefs Hong and Kim would take good care of this pho addict.

“I try to keep the pho very fresh and authentic, using only the best quality ingredients,” says Nguyen, who also owns Ba-Le in Kahala Mall. “I use Hawaiian salt and rock candy sugar, which gives a nice flavor to the broth.”

The broth itself is brewed for eight to nine hours each day with beef bone, stew meat, chicken, ginger, round onions and an array of special seasonings. Honestly, the broth is what makes the pho at Saigon House ever so perfect.

With a varied selection of pho to appease all appetites, Nguyen presented me with one of the restaurant’s most popular soups, the Pho Special Combination of Beef ($8 medium, $8.50 large). This dish — full of vegetables like bean sprouts, basil and Ngo Rai leaf, and tender morsels of protein, including, tendon, tripe, steak, and beef balls — left me completely satisfied and guilt-free. Although tasty enough as is, the dish received a bit of lemon and jalapeno from me — if only for some added zest. Yum!

Diners at Saigon House also like to take their pho to the next level with a drop or two of hoisin sauce and spicy chili sauce.

So why go to Vietnam for pho when you can have it all right here at Saigon House? Thanks to Nguyen and her chefs, you too can slurp up those tasty noodles and sip up every last bit of broth at just the right temperature. It’s an experience you most certainly won’t pho-get!

Saigon House
2743 S. King St.
(808) 942-4577
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Pho My Lien Vietnamese Restaurant

  • At Pho My Lien, the original pho dish is served with your meat of choice.
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The husband-wife team of Tommy Dang and Lien Bui know the secret to creating authentically exquisite pho. However, as owners of Pho My Lien Vietnamese Restaurant, they don’t plan to share their secret anytime soon. How can they, when they’re too busy serving bowl after bowl of noodle-soup dishes to other pho-natics like me?!

“We’re open for lunch and dinner, and we serve 70 to 100 bowls of pho a day,” Dang says. “And our prices are reasonable at $6.95 for a regular size bowl and $7.95 for a large bowl.”

May I have a large bowl, pretty please? Bigger is always better when it comes to pho, because not only is it nutritionally balanced, affordable and easy to make, but more importantly, pho is believed to be a daily tonic and elixir that, according to Dang, clears the head and warms the heart.

Pho My Lien’s original pho is served with five meats of your choice — be it slices of rare steak, well-done beef flank, soft beef tendon, beef tripe or beef balls. Choose one or all options, if you must!

For those foodies who prefer poultry or seafood, consider the pho with chicken ($7.95) or with shrimp and squid ($8.95). Vegetarians or veggie lovers will welcome the pho with mixed vegetables ($7.95).

And to complete this pho-out experience, all noodle entrees are served with herbs, mint leaves, bean sprouts, chili pepper, wedges of lemon and savory sauces.

So what are you waiting for, foodies? Get down to Pho My Lien today!

Pho My Lien
Westridge Shopping Center
98-150 Kaonohi St., Suite B213-B
(808) 488-4900
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Pho Kitchen

  • The Chicken Pho ($7.75) comes with some dried shrimp and dried squid at Pho Kitchen.
  • The Tofu and Veggie Pho ($7.75) at Pho Kitchen contains Chinese cabbage, carrots and tofu cooked in chicken or vegetable broth.
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Searching for a perfect blend of nutritious, delicious and affordable? It’s all found right in front of your very nose at Pho Kitchen. Conveniently located at Market City Shopping Center, Pho Kitchen offers everything pho. And owners Sandy Lin and Alex Chong were quick to tell me what makes their pho stand out above the rest. Take, for example, my personal favorite: Chicken Pho ($7.75).

“The chicken broth cooks for six hours and we use a lot of chicken carcasses, ginger, a bit of dried shrimp, dried squid and more,” Chong says.

The pho noodles are very smooth in texture, soaking up the tasty broth with each and every slurp-ful that you take. Add to that alluring pieces of marinated chicken and you’ll find you and your tummy happily rejoicing in pho heaven.

From time to time, especially now while trying to get into the best shape, I order up the Tofu and Veggie Pho ($7.75). This particular pho is as fresh as it gets, featuring Chinese cabbage, carrots and tofu cooked in the famous chicken broth or vegetable broth. Trust me, after a meal like this, you’ll leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to take on whatever life throws at you.

Pho Kitchen
Market City Shopping Center
2919 Kapiolani Blvd. #217
(808) 735-8488
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Hawaii's Best