I believe that pho is an acquired taste. Years ago, I first tried pho, and I kind of hated it. This was way before medium rare meat was de rigeur and perhaps the sight of raw meat slices atop of my food was too much for me. Or maybe it's because I had my first pho in Cleveland. I grew up in Cleveland and have some fond memories, but they're way behind many cities in the ethnic food game.
Years later, after trying many more bowls of pho in different cities, I love the stuff. It's not just me, Mr. Plantain went through the same hate to love relationship shift with pho, too. Now, we both can't get enough of it, so when we find a good pho place, we are frequent visitors. We first tried Pho Viet in Columbia Heights three weeks ago and we've been back at least four times since.
We've tried a bunch of different pho places in the DC area: Pho 75 (Arlington branch), Pho 14, Pho DC, but it's only Pho Viet that captured our stomachs. I'm not saying that Pho Viet is perfect, but I will not hesitate to say that it's the best pho in the metro DC area. The yum: the broth, the most important part of the pho experience, is clean-tasting and flavorful, not too sweet, strewn with onions and cilantro. The requisite heap of accompanying thai basil, jalapenos, and bean sprouts is amazingly fresh.
The could be better, but I'm not complaining: the raw eye round becomes too tough, so I can't order my normal pho tai. Instead, you should definitely opt for the brisket and beef meatball combination pho. Also, the egg rolls are crispy and tasty, but are served with a paltry piece of lettuce rather than the mound of lettuce and herbs that allow you to deliciously wrap up the egg roll and dip it into the fish sauce mixture. All petty stuff, though, compared to the happiness of finding our regular pho place. Just writing about it makes me want it again. FYI, the vermicelli bowl with grilled pork and egg rolls is seriously good if you manage to pull yourself away from the pho.
3513 14th St. NW,
Washington, DC 20010