"How did you find out about us?" asks owner Khoa Nguyen of his shop that opened last month. He's from southern Vietnam.
We learned about it from a flier at a nail salon, of all places, I tell him. My friend Megan had been craving soup, despite that temperatures here have hovered in the 80s. In two weeks, she's off to Vietnam for a month.
go for spring rolls as the first round: fresh, made-to-order, oversized
rolls stuffed with shrimp, pork, noodles, and cilantro. Nguyen says he
orders all organic produce at his shop.
The spring rolls are fine, but we're here for the pho: a deep broth laced with star anise and cinnamon. Seasoned with jalapeño, scallions, basil, and culantro, broth transforms pages of brisket from rare to cooked. I douse it with extra lime and chili. Though a tangle of noodles and accouterments are too much to finish, we drink the savory liquid. It's a soulful bowl.
In between catching up with friends, I'm reminded of rainy-day lunches at Four Sisters
Vietnamese in Northern Virginia. Or I'm joined by dearest friends from home who've ordered it for delivery. On a midcentury, Formica kitchen table overlooking an urban backyard, we'd assemble our soup from knotted bags stuffed with noodles, meat, and herbs. My friend would take out several sets of his mother's chopsticks and soup spoons for a Saturday lunch, "Oh What a Night" from the Dells on the turntable. Pho is my memory dish.
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