What the Phở?

Cuisine, New Jersey, Vietnamese

The Battleground

Saigon Phở, East Hanover, New Jersey


The Contenders

Nº 132 vs. Nº 131

Tofu and mixed veg in a sauce to knock your socks off. Served on a nest of fried noodles.

Tofu and mixed veg in a sauce to knock your socks off. Served on a nest of fried noodles.

Legs:

Saigon Phở has long been my test of a true friend. Do you like the food here? Yes? We can be friends. By far the food at Saigon Phở is the closest I’ve gotten to true Vietnamese food outside of Vietnam.

One of my favorite delicacies is the bird’s nest of noodles you see before you. These thin, crispy noodles are eggy and delicious all on their own and a treat to feast upon. However, the real show stealer is the sauce they’re relaxing in. As you eat and the noodles absorb that beautiful brown goodness, they become limp and more closely resemble angel hair pasta. The transformation from crisp to soft noodles during your meal is truly a pleasure.

But back to the sauce. Gravy-like in viscosity, this sauce is one for the ages. This smoky, earthy mosaic of happiness reveals more and more layers of itself as you continue to indulge. Complexly subtle and absolutely divine.

The tofu was great (of course), but the real pièce de résistance here is the mixed veg. What vegetable didn’t go into this medley? Broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, yellow and green onions, bok choy, mushrooms, carrots, baby corn and celery. Permeated by that beautiful earth sauce (with chili and hoisin to boot), these vegetables sing.

Cảm ơn bạn!


Chicken and tofu simmered in a caramel sauce with bell peppers and onions. I substituted chicken for pork. Happy Rosh Hashanah!

Chicken and tofu simmered in a caramel sauce with bell peppers and onions. I substituted chicken for pork. Happy Rosh Hashanah!

Snax:

Meat eaters, vegetarians, foodies, and even people who are afraid of anything more exotic than an egg roll can find something that will blow them away on Saigon Phở’s menu. I got greedy and asked to alter one of their divine creations to suit my cravings. Luckily my blasphemy was rewarded.

The Snax edition of Nº 131 arrived in a cozy pot under one of the hottest cloches known to man. Not the greatest choice in presentation but the aroma that rushed out of the pot made me forget all about burning my fingerprints off. I eagerly snapped up pieces of skillfully prepared chicken and tofu from their tasty hot spring therapy session.

The caramel sauce was even better than anticipated thanks to a tamed sweetness. I felt like Goldilocks trying to pinpoint its perfect viscosity. Not too loose, not too thick, but just right. Notes of ginger and lemongrass followed in the caramel’s footsteps allowing the proteins to jump into this delicious vehicle and drive way over the speed limit. Dangerously delicious.

The most serious offense to this dish, other than the hazardous presentation, is the lack of veggies. The bell peppers and onions melted in my mouth thanks to the sauce, but the chef must have made Legs’ dish first and forgot to leave some vegetables for me. How am I supposed to battle without all of my vitamins?!

I better pop a few Flintstones before heading out the door tomorrow.


And the winner is… Legs!

✗Protein ✗Sauce ✓Sides/Veggies ✓Presentation

My bird’s nest of love noodles really didn’t have much competition. Absolutely extraordinary for the eyes to feast upon. And Snax’s “veggies” were just red peppers and onions, versus the entire farm patch served up on my plate. A winning streak of two! Huzzah!

September/October wins:

Legs: 2 – Snax: 0

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