Right off the bat, I must confess that I have had the Pho at Pho Tay Ho at least a dozen times.
I was first introduced to Pho in the early 90s, by a friend everyone knew as 'Little Joe". He worked for a social services charity that helped relocated and refugeed Vietnamese. He was not Vietnamese, but a veteran of that war, and spoke the language fluently. He invited me over one Sunday afternoon for Pho, and he had a few of his Vietnamese friends as well. I remember walking into his kitchen and seeing a huge, and I mean huge pot on the stove, a restaurant type pot, hot a home kitchen pot. He told me what it was, and how he made it, usually taking all day and all of the ingredients he put in it. Then when time to eat, he walked me through the garnish and eating it. As I recall, he said most Vietnamese just eat the meat and noodles, and not the broth. (I maybe way off on this, it was 20 years ago) Please correct me if I am incorrect. I eat the broth anyway because it is so good!
Fast forward a bunch of years and the love of Pho that was instilled back then kept me looking for it where I could. 10 years ago, I would eat it at Shanghai Cafe on 1300 South and State, it was good then, but I have not been back for a long time. And I really liked Cafe Trang's, back when they were back at their old location on Main Street, I have not been to the new location downtown. I did just recently try the Pho at the new Cafe Trang location on State in Murray, it seemed a mere shell of the old Trang Pho, and paled in comparison to Pho Tay Ho.
When I go to Pho Tay Ho, I always order the Pho tai bo vien, which is the noodles with rare beef and meatball. This combination is not actually on the menu, but they never bat an eye when I order it. The broth at Pho Tay Ho is rich and flavorful. You just know it is 'home made', especially when you walk in the door and you can peek into the kitchen and see the pots on the stove. Pho comes with the traditional condiments, Thai basil, sliced jalapeno peppers, a mound of bean sprouts, and lime wedges, although many times they serve lemon wedges.
Squeeze the citrus in, then drop it in the broth, drop the sprigs of Thai basil in, add the sliced pepper, and the bean sprouts. For me, the eventual heat from the peppers is plenty, however, if you like more heat, red pepper paste and Sriracha is on the table along with fish, soy and hoisin sauce. I then add a squirt of hoisin, a swirl of soy, and dig in. Chopsticks and Asian spoons are on the table. If you are a fork lover, you have to ask. The combination of the broth, meat, condiments and garnishes all come together to create a bowl of love that sooths the soul. Pho is best in the winter, however, give me a bowl of it in the middle of Summer, I will be one happy camper. So far, this is the best Pho I have had since that day 20 years ago.
The menu offers a variety of combinations of Pho, spring rolls and few appetizer options and a few Bun options. I have yet to try anything else off the menu. When I go, I tell myself to get out of my box, but that Pho tai bo vien always calls my name. They also have many traditional Vietnamese beverages.
Pho Tay Ho 1766 South Main SLC