Perhaps it's fate that we should be reviewing this Vietnamese style pho (pronounced "fuh," like you were going to say a dirty word, but then quickly and wisely changed your mind) on our birthday. In Vietnam, it's traditional to eat a bowl of beef pho on your birthday.
Actually, no, I just made that up. According to this site, in fact, there are no actual birthday traditions in Vietnam, but rather, all birthdays are celebrated on New Year's Day. So...this is sort of an inappropriate dish to review on our birthday. Oh well. Such is life. Did you know, however, that we share our birthday with James Cameron, Madonna, Angela Bassett, Kathie Lee Gifford, Frank Gifford, and Eydie Gorme (whom my mother-in-law worked for some years ago) just to name a few? It's true.
OK, enough intro. On with the food review. For starters, based on TJ's track record, I was fully expecting there to be a lack of beef in this dish. They have a tendency to skimp on the meat in dishes like this one. But I've gotta say, that was NOT the case here. Now I'm certainly not saying there was too much beef, but I was pleasantly surprised that the soup had plenty of meat bits that lasted until the end. Although, that being said, I must unfortunately point out that another basic ingredient was in short supply: the noodles! Not sure how that happened really, but I ran out of noodles way before beef. And, the noodles seemed really tough to me. I followed the instructions, but it felt like I should have allowed the noodles to soak in hot water for another five minutes or so.
The broth was light and slightly savory, like a good pho broth should be. I've only had restaurant pho twice, and both times, I am told, I had it from average-at-best pho restaurants, but I must remind you that Russ and I are self-proclaimed foodie-hacks, not true licensed foodies. And I'm willing to bet that many of you have eaten even less pho than I have...so please bear with me. The veggies were fine: chopped up into little pieces and evenly distributed throughout the soup. Like the beef and broth, I had no major complaints about the vegetable bits.
The overall effect is a nice, delicate Asian meat and vegetable soup. The biggest let-down by far was the lack of noodles, and their slightly-stiff texture. I'd try this product again, but I'd heat the dish an extra minute and allow it to sit for an extra five. I'll give it three and a half stars. Sonia agrees.
Bottom line: 7 out of 10.