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You can't imagine how heartbroken I was this weekend when I drove up to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Sakyo, off of Okeechobee Boulevard and Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach, to find the parking lot empty and the windows darkened. Sakyo had closed for good.
Finally this recession is really hitting me where it hurts, right in my Pho cravings. Sakyo had been taken over from the much-beloved previous owners, who ran it as a Japanese/sushi joint, and the new family had added its wonderful Vietnamese menu to the mix. Regular customers will remember the weird electric doors that slid open when you walked up (the place must've been a grocery or retail chain at some point), the elaborate karaoke system, and the wallpaper: printed, life-sized photos of a bamboo grove.
But most memorable of all was their Pho (pronounced "Fuh"). This beef soup was so mysterious that I'm still not sure how they wrung so much flavor out of it: a deep dark beef broth flavored with anise, ginger, and cinnamon in which floated sliced brisket and sirloin, sliced sausages or tendon, plus a bucketload of soft rice noodles, the whole thing topped with fresh basil, a long-leafed form of cilantro, mint, and occasionally another minty Vietnamese herb called laska, if they had it on hand. You'd throw in a handful of bean sprouts and the herbs, as many jalepeno slices as you could handle, then doctor the thing from an array of sauces: fish sauce, chili sauce or sambal olek, maybe a dash of hoisin, and squeeze a lime over the top. The total effect was rich, strange, comforting, filling, aromatic, and so complex it almost defied description. I was completely addicted to it, and I think I can say here that it may have been my favorite food in the whole world.
I am gonna miss this soup like there's no tomorrow. Anybody out there know of any other really good places to get Vietnamese Pho?