A Pho Battle Royale

Good eating in the Valley of the Sun
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akurasch
Posts: 18
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3 years ago

I have been on a quest to find the best pho in the valley. I have tried most of the biggies and those which did not make the cut range from good to overrated to down right bland which include; Pho Thanh, Da Veng, Song Lynn, Valley Vietnamese, Pho 602, Maxim, Tea Light, Pho Avina, Pho Viet Vietnamese, Little Saigon, Pho Cao, Simi's Cafe, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some others on the quest.

However, I have a final 4 that have the right combination of tasty broth and quality ingredients. With each, I catch some days that are more spectacular than other days so I thought maybe I could get some others to weigh in on my final 4 of;

PHO 43 (or 43rd Express)
SAIGON NITES
NOODLES RANCH
PHO AV
Last edited by akurasch 3 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
EndofDiscOne
Posts: 17
Joined: 3 years ago

3 years ago

Saigon Nites is a good option for pho, and it is particularly good because you don't have to drive south for 30 minutes to get to it.

However, if you are down in Mesa or Tempe or Chandler, I recommend Saigon Seafood at 1381 N Alma School Rd #3, Chandler, AZ 85224. Their pot of pho broth has been on the boil continuously since 1988 or so, and it is as good as anything you might get in San Jose or Santa Clara.
Nam
Posts: 68
Joined: 7 years ago

3 years ago

Darn, I need to start ordering pho again, I can almost never resist defaulting to bun bo hue! From what I remember, I liked Noodles Ranch for having a really light broth with nearly no fat content. I'm going to hit up some places and weigh in more substantially in a month or so.
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Mike Z
Posts: 494
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Location: Central Tempe

3 years ago

Whoa! Dissing Pho Thanh and Pho Avina on this board (neither of which I've been to) might get you stabbed in these parts, lol ;)

Have you tried Khai Hoan in Tempe on Apache? It's my go to for Pho
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akurasch
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3 years ago

EndofDiscOne wrote:However, if you are down in Mesa or Tempe or Chandler, I recommend Saigon Seafood at 1381 N Alma School Rd #3, Chandler, AZ 85224. Their pot of pho broth has been on the boil continuously since 1988 or so, and it is as good as anything you might get in San Jose or Santa Clara.
Thank you for the recommendation. Already went down to try it. Had the beef ball and beef slice pho. The beef ball was quite good, and the broth was good, but without the complexity of my top 4. I'd put it at the top of my next tier with Pho Thanh.
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Skillet Doux
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3 years ago

Mike Z wrote:Whoa! Dissing Pho Thanh and Pho Avina on this board (neither of which I've been to) might get you stabbed in these parts, lol ;)
FWIW, I'm not surprised by Pho Avina. The soups, pho included, were never their strength (too sweet), and that was before the ownership change. I've not heard good things since :-/

I AM surprised by the inclusion of Noodles Ranch. That's one of those places I keep going back to because everybody loves it so much, and walk out shaking my head every time... but I'll give it one more shot :-)

In any case, love the thoroughness, akurasch... bravo! Look forward to hearing about more as you try them!
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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akurasch
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3 years ago

Mike Z wrote:Whoa! Dissing Pho Thanh and Pho Avina on this board (neither of which I've been to) might get you stabbed in these parts, lol ;)

Have you tried Khai Hoan in Tempe on Apache? It's my go to for Pho
Pho Thanh and Pho Avina were both good (Thanh was #5), but didn't qualify for my top 4. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll put Khai Hoan next on my list to try.
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akurasch
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3 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote:I AM surprised by the inclusion of Noodles Ranch. That's one of those places I keep going back to because everybody loves it so much, and walk out shaking my head every time... but I'll give it one more shot :-)
They may have multiple chefs that make the broth. From time to time I will get a bowl there where the broth would best be described as pedestrian, however most of the time it has rich flavors with strong aromatics that make it one of my favorites in the valley.
J Live
Posts: 60
Joined: 4 years ago
Location: Phoenix, AZ

3 years ago

I don't know if it's up there with the best but we've been door dashing the crap out of noodles ranch of late. Not sure I've ever been blown away by their pho but I've actually always found it to be consistent. The post earlier that puts it on the lighter side is spot on.
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AZLobo
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3 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote: FWIW, I'm not surprised by Pho Avina. . . I've not heard good things since :-/
Interesting that you say that Dom, because I get out to Banner Thunderbird a fair amount these days, and the last couple of times that I have intended to lunch at Pho Avina I've gone to the Korean place next door. Can't put my finger on why, but it is what it is.
artvandelay
Posts: 148
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3 years ago

AZLobo wrote:the last couple of times that I have intended to lunch at Pho Avina I've gone to the Korean place next door. Can't put my finger on why, but it is what it is.
Don't want to hijack this thread but I'm curious what you think of the Korean place. It is one of the places I keep going back to because my wife really enjoys their tofu soup. I prefer other places in town but I have always enjoyed everything I have eaten there.
Slickexotics
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3 years ago

Have you tried UnPhoGettable at Mekong Market?
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akurasch
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3 years ago

Slickexotics wrote:Have you tried UnPhoGettable at Mekong Market?
I know where I'm going next :)
Mike Z wrote:Have you tried Khai Hoan in Tempe on Apache? It's my go to for Pho
Thanks for the recommendation. I got a chance to give it a shot. My mother ordered pho with beef ball and think sliced rare beef so I thought to get some variety I'd get pho with chicken so I could try both.

The beef ball was a tasty offering, the rare beef was not close to rare, and the chicken was way over cooked (dry and leathery).

At first I thought the broths were disappointing, however, as they cooled down a bit the got noticeably tastier. The further you got into the bowl, the more the flavors crept up on you and were quite pleasant.

On a side note, I started with the spring rolls and found them to be a bit chewy and missing some punch. Some mint and cilantro could go a long way.

Solid offering, but not among the elite. If I were in the Tempe I'd feel comfortable stopping there for a beef ball pho.
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johnseberg
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3 years ago

FWIW, I prefer Angelina's Pho Grill over Pho Avina in my neighborhood. But, I don't get out much.

Angelina's Pho Grill
5350 W Bell Rd, Glendale, AZ 85308
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akurasch
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3 years ago

Slickexotics wrote:Have you tried UnPhoGettable at Mekong Market?
Thank you for the recommendation. Obviously some differ as the restaurant was pretty full, but UnPhoGettable was not my cup of tea.

I ordered a rare beef pho with added beef balls. The beef was chewy and the beef ball had an off-putting flavor and an odd texture. All could be forgiven though based on the broth.

Interestingly. when I first tasted the broth I felt it was ok. It didn't have the depth of the best of broths it town, but it had a flavor that was pleasant at first. I thought was better than some of the bland offerings around the valley. However, by the end of the meal, I would have preferred one of the more bland offerings. Imagine listening to the same musical note over, and over, and over, and over again. Silence is much better. That was how I felt about this broth. The same darn note over and over again. I did what I never do and started doctoring the bowl with sriracha, hoisin, salt, and by the end I even tried sugar.

On a side note, I had the spring rolls which were the worst I've had in town. The spring roll itself was flavorless and the sauce literally tasted like melted Skippy peanut butter, While I enjoy melted peanut butter on a toasted bagel, it's not exactly what you want as a complement in your Asian meal.
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davej
Posts: 57
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3 years ago

I have not been back to Unphogettable for years. They are pretty meh. Funny though the owner lives directly across the street from me and is my neighbor. :P
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LaPan
Posts: 276
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Location: Chandler, AZ
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3 years ago

Sounds like it should be renamed Pho-gettaboutit


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HrHamada
Posts: 11
Joined: 4 years ago

3 years ago

[quote="LaPan"]Sounds like it should be renamed Pho-gettaboutit

I've come to the conclusion that whenever someone has a name based on a bad pun.........
And it's bad enough when the bad pun is made by people from the cultural group the pun is based on, but when it's done by someone from outside the cultural group, those inside the group don't always view it as a compliment. Even if the food truck does serve pretty decent food I hate names like that. It's not that I don't think people from other groups can't cook other peoples food. I used to, and many of you know I used to patronize a ramen shop that was owned and operated by caucasians. It's that if you do it, do it with respect and sensitivity.

I don't expect much from restaurants named after bad puns. As such, I got what I expected from un-pho-gettable.
Nam
Posts: 68
Joined: 7 years ago

3 years ago

Enjoyed Pho Vietnam in Chandler today. Got the ubiquitous Pho Dac Biec, flavors were on point, anise and something a smidgen sweetish(cinnamon?) came through, and that happy brothy flavor followed me for maybe 10 or so minutes. I really do prefer clean broths and this is as pure as any. Noodles + meat were good, perhaps not as much meat as other bowls in town. Put in mint, tore up and added the jalopeno slices as well some squeeze of lime. Re:notes of flavor probably not the full symphony akurasch is looking for, but a talented four string quartet I'd say :D

Spring rolls were fine, but the sauce was really good! The hoisin/peanut (butter?) base w/crushed peanuts, carrot, daikon I liked a lot.


393 W Warner Rd
Ste 103
Chandler, AZ 85225
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Dapuma
Posts: 567
Joined: 7 years ago
Location: Scottsdale

3 years ago

Khai Hoan for the win
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