Final Pho, Round 2: Pho 86 vs. Pho Quang Trung
|Pho Quang Trung's "grab bag o' beef" pho|
In the actual Final Four, there are occasional upsets, teams no one expected to go very far advancing due to a misstep by the favorite team. In the Final Pho, this too can happen. The star player turns his ankle; the favorite cook makes one crucial mistake from which the game can never recover.
Pho Quang Trung has an enormous menu, from a full page's worth of homestyle specialities to any kind of noodle ever sold in Vietnam, but it's known for its chicken pho, which propelled it to easy victory over Pho Kimmy in Round 1 of Final Pho. For Round 2, it was time for the beef pho to take its turn in the hot seat.
On a lark, the bowl ordered was "mixed beef"--white-people-speak for "everything including the nasty bits"--with beef meatballs. Vietnamese beef meatballs are not the light, airy balls the Italians serve, nor the allspice-flecked balls with cream gravy so popular in Sweden, but a dense, springy ball made of beef that has been pounded into paste. They're normally sliced, and in the soup, they made a surprisingly tasty addition to a bowl that contained perfectly soft and perfectly rare tái (rare beef), an almost-smoky flank steak, a tendon that popped appealingly, very, very thinly shredded tripe, and brisket cut whisper-thin.
Pho Quang Trung's beef broth is very slightly too salty; it would have been a point against them, except that squeezing the lemon into the broth corrected it perfectly. The only other complaint with the beef pho at Quang Trung was that there was exactly one piece of tripe and one piece of tendon in the bowl. With six meats in the bowl, there wouldn't be room for tons of either, but at least two pieces for comparison's sake would have been best.
WINNER, AND ONTO THE FINAL PHO: Pho Quang Trung, but only because the bracket is won or lost by the last game played. Pho 86 is a worthy destination, and its pho game was well-played--the offending tripe is easily eliminated from the bowl, but this is about pho perfection.
Pho 86, 14576 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 839-4591.
Pho Quang Trung, 10072 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 638-2286.
Pho Quang Trung (location not reviewed), 9211 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 891-2800.
ROUND 1 WINNERS:
Pho Dakao vs. Kim Loan: Pho Dakao
AnQi vs. Benley: Benley
Pho Thanh Lich vs. Pho Vinh Ky 2: Pho Thanh Lich
Pho Kimmy vs. Pho Quang Trung: Pho Quang Trung
Pho Hien Vuong vs. Pho Nguyen Hue: Pho Nguyen Hue
Brodard Chateau vs. S Vietnamese Fine Dining: Brodard Chateau
Pho Thang Long vs. Quan Hop: Quan Hop
Pho 79 vs. Pho 86: Pho 86
ROUND 2 WINNERS:
Pho Dakao Vs. Pho Nguyen Hue: Pho Nguyen Hue
Benley vs Brodard Chateau: Brodard Chateau
Pho Thanh Lich vs. Quan Hop: Pho Thanh Lich