by Michael Jones.
This weekend we went to the soft opening of Dan Cho’s new restaurant, Pho Chi Minh. Both of us are huge fans of Paulie’s pizza, also owned by Dan, so when we heard about this new concept we were extremely excited to try it. We ordered a lot of food during the soft opening: two bowls of Pho, one order of Szechuan fried rice, fried spring rolls, and two Vietnamese iced coffees, one black and one sweet. Last year we traveled throughout Vietnam and one of the things we missed most after we left was the coffee. The coffee in Vietnam is strong, but also extremely smooth and buttery. Dan is sourcing the coffee, and the drip apparatus directly from Vietnam’s largest coffee chain, Trung Nguyen. The coffee reminded me of the wonderful coffee we had in Vietnam and the taste was dark, rich, and buttery. It's a great cup of coffee (3900 won).
The Pho was also outstanding and both of us ordered the #1, the Pho Dac Biet (9900 won for the regular size). The broth was very rich and slightly spicy. The chunks of meat were tender and the noodles were the perfect texture. We are not Pho experts, but we went to some great Pho restaurants in Vietnam and Pho Chi Minh did not disappoint us. There are some other Pho places in Seoul that we also really like, but this was one of the few times that we enjoyed all three major ingredients at once: the meat, broth, and the noodles. The Pho was great, but the Szechuan fried rice really blew us away. We love Chinese style fried rice and the Szechuan style was mouthwatering. It was spicy, like all dishes inspired by Szechuan cuisine should be, and it was extremely flavorful and moist from the wok.
Our first experience at Pho Chi Minh was great, so we went back with friends on Sunday. I was eager to try another dish that really gets my blood flowing, beef and broccoli. When foreigners think of American food, two meals usually come to mind: pizza and hamburgers. What a lot of people tend to forget is America’s obsession with American Chinese food. I spent a large portion of my childhood dinners sitting in front of Chinese takeout containers. Nine times out of ten, my container was filled with chicken and broccoli or beef and broccoli. Although I really enjoyed the Pho at Pho Chi Minh, I was really excited when Dan told me about their beef and broccoli served with rice. So on our second visit, we both ordered the beef and broccoli and we were blown away by the taste and overwhelmed by nostalgia. The sauce was thick, creamy, and perfect. The chunks of beef were large and tender, but the broccoli was my favorite part. The broccoli was perfectly cooked and added a fantastic crunch to the tender pork. These contrasting textures make the dish special. It reminded me of home, but the quality at Pho Chi Minh is definitely better than the places our families went to. The fried rice that was served with it was also wonderful, but Dan told me that in the future it will probably be served with white rice. Either way, I will be back often to eat this dish and all the other wonderful food at Pho Chi Minh.
Go to Gwanghwamun Station - Line 5 (purple)
Take exit 3 and make a u-turn
Immediately turn right at the next road and walk straight
Walk until you see the Korean archaeological site
Then the building will be on your right
Walk through the doors and go to the fifth floor.
You'll see Pho Chi Minh on the corner on the right.
Let's face it, Asian countries make the best soups on the planet. From the many different soups and stews of Korea, to Japanese Ramen, and last but not least, Vietnamese Pho, the soups in Asia are fantastic. I'm always on the lookout for new places to try these dishes, and a few days ago I found one. While exploring the area around Sangsu station with my girlfriend, our senses were ensnared by the intoxicating smell of rich broth wafting through the street. The smell was so wonderful we had to check it out. We ate the Pho there and loved it so much, we had to go back with friends. The first time, I ordered the well-done flank steak Pho (7500 won) and the second time I ordered the chicken Pho (8500 won), and the fried spring rolls (5500 won). First, I noticed the incredible taste, but I was also thrilled by the size. I'm a big guy (90+kilos), and after a hard work-out session the soup still made me feel full. That is no small feat. The broth was rich, but not over-powering. The noodles were the perfect consistency, and the meat was tender. For the money I think the steak Pho is a better deal than the chicken Pho because of the amount of meat in the soup. The fried spring rolls were mind-blowing, and I could eat them all day. The outside layer was perfectly fried and not burnt at all. The outside was flaky, and perfectly golden brown, while the inside was moist, and packed with flavor. Also available at Little Papa is Banh Mi sandwiches, fried rice topped with egg, noodle dishes, and Vietnamese beer. The interior was small but inviting, and from the open kitchen, you could smell incredible things cooking while you wait. The service was also great and fast. If you want some delicious Pho, then you should visit Little Papa.
Directions: From Sangsu station exit 1, make a u-turn.
Walk straight until you see Paik's coffee on your left.
Immediately, take a left and walk straight 3-5 minutes.
Little papa will be on your right.
We're just a couple addicted to great food. We love Anthony Bourdain!