Dear White Man,
What do you get when you combine Northern-style Pho from Hai Phong with Blue Bottle Coffee Beans? A new poppin’ Pho spot in the Western Addition. For an area that is exactly in between the two Turtle Tower locations, My Father’s Kitchen/Pho Phuong Hong will be a great spot for Western Additioners if you like hoisen-free noodles. And the fact that the guy working at Blue Bottle trying to make “artisanal” Vietnamese drip coffee for the pho joint is Vietnamese American, I can’t be any happier. So meet me in SF this weekend to check out PPHo (you heard the nickname here first).
I’m not entirely against Vietnamese pho restaurants using puns in their names (Pho King in East Oakland comes to mind). And I’m not against Vietnamese spots that don’t use accents in their menus; they confuse English-reading folks and are superfluous to folks who can read Viet, given some context of course (see 9021Pho menu). But you damn well better serve some good pho! Not that fusion crap (usually fused with more water and less MSG fish sauce). Cause this is the one dish that Americans don’t like when its watered down and prepared in a French-style bowl (ie. small portion in a giant white dish). So I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt 9021Pho in Beverly Hills, California. But judging by the Thrillist review, I have DOUBTS. EXTREME DOUBTS:
From the former chef of Michela comes this nook-like, modern casual soupery dedicated almost entirely to brothy Vietnamese deliciousness, with variations including Pho Ca (sliced tuna, onion, bean sprout, basil, and chili w/ chicken stock) and Spicy and Sour (shrimp, sole, straw mushroom, pineapple, baby corn and noodles in lemongrass, chili and tamarind broth); there’re also a few traditional entrees, like prawns wok-tossed with cilantro, garlic, and sherry vinaigrette over sliced tomatoes, and a peppercorn sauced filet mignon that’s cubed — so bring your TI-86.
My dear sir, I propose a gentlemen’s bet, HUZZAH! Ye shall eat a significant size bowl of Pho, 2 lbs of noodles and 2 lbs of beef to be exact. Eat it all good sir, and ye shall ne’er pay for the bowl. However, if ye shall fail (and fail ye shall), the aforementioned bowl shall cost ye 2 tenners and 2 sterling ($22).
We shall meet at Pho Garden in the Outermost portion of the lands of Richmond in the City of Saint Francis on 2109 Clement Street and your challenge will be met.
Thumb Soup™ /Thum∙Soop/ Noun.
A little special something a customer gets when ordering Pho at a Vietnamese noodle shop. Typically occurs when a waiter brings out a bowl of steaming hot noodles without the aid of a tray. Cradling the bowl with four fingers to carrying the weight of the bowl requires the use of the waiter’s remaining finger, the thumb, for balance. This inevitably leads to the thumb being dipped into the soup, adding a little extra flavor to the soup. Now that you know the secret, you will now, of course, stare directly at your bowl of soup when it comes out to see at which point (if ever) it instantly transforms to Thumb Soup™.
Term was originally coined by Brian M.
A lot of people always ask what’s your “Desert Island” meal? I don’t think that’s a true indicator of your tastes, cause I can’t have a Peter Luger steak and my friend’s mom’s hot pot everyday. I think what your body won’t reject is what your real meal is. I’m talking about that moment when you’re sick as hell, back and forth from the bathroom and all your favorite foods make you want to throw up. (which is right now for me, that’s why I’m writing this). McDonalds fries? yak, comes right back at you. Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, you can’t even imagine the smell of maple syrup and fried food… California burrito and carne asada fries? No way, Jose.
What you crave (and your body will only accept) is what you need. I’d like to know from you guys what your favorites are (leave a note in the comments section). As for me, its Pho (cliched, I know, but its genetic, I’m sure). But not just any Pho, it has to be Pho Tai Bo Vien (rare beef and beef balls):
Some other favorites that I need. When I’m sick as a dog, its gotta be Chao (or Congee Jook for my Chinese imperialist buddies). Its gotta be chicken or just lime and nothing else. When I’m well, and maybe hungover or tipsy, its gotta have intestines and hearts and (what the) blood clots and everything. Forreal, forreal.
And lastly, the ONLY other thing I can eat is Ruoc and Gio (shredded pork jerky and steamed pork sausage) and rice.
It wasn’t always this way. I use to be the kid who had my parents get me McDonalds Happy Meals before we walked into Pho restaurants. In hind sight, its hella embarrassing to know that I did that and I sure as hell wouldn’t let my future Americanized kids do that… And I used to bring ruoc sandwiches to school and trade ’em to the white kids for PB&J sandwiches (a delicacy where I was from). But you can’t escape from genetics. Cause I can’t eat anything other than Asian food when I’m craving shit or when I’m sick or drunk or hungover. In the wise words of R&B legend and other dubious fame, R. Kelly: “My mind’s tellin me no! But my body! My body’s telling me yes!”.
Its true, I have a man crush on John Cho. He is everything I am not. Smart, funny, charming and Korean. It all started when I saw him as “Asian guy with wife shopping for a house” in American Beauty. It only went straight up from there when he invented the term MILF in the whitest cast of a Hollywood film, American Pie. He not only came back for the sequels, he curtailed that role with the directors into a TV show where he played Chau, a lovable, yet goofy Vietnamese-American Pho Restaurant owner. A sitcom where the characters sit around and eat Pho rather than drink coffee in a cafe in NYC with no minorities? Which is more realistic? Honestly?
There was a slight dip when I saw you in Better Luck Tomorrow, only because I expected so much more. But Harold and Kumar Go to the White Castle followed by the equally genius of Harold and Kumar Go to Amsterdam sealed the deal. Throw in your role as a chef specializing in seafood in No Reservations, and my mancrush blossomed into full bromance. When I found out the show was going to be cancelled, I was stunned. But when I found out you were leaving the show after a handful of episodes, prior to cancellation, I called FOUL by Hollywood! RACISM! Fire the ONLY Asian cast member why don’t you! Only to eat my words later when I found out you left to develop your OWN tv show with the network. But where are you now? How can you possibly come back from being so high up? Is there anything higher than the stars above? Higher than the sky? The ozone? That weird bluish-blackish area between the earth’s atmosphere and space? Yes. Apparently there is.
There. You did it. Your next movie is STAR FREAKING TREK. The only things I love more than Star Trek are my parents, followed closely by Star Wars. SULU. You’re playing SULU in the year 2009. Sulu didn’t get the girls like Kirk did, and he didn’t get in fights like Scotty. He wasn’t as smart as Spock, and not as funny as Bones, or crazy as Chekov and definitely not as hot as Uhura. But YOU JOHN CHO WILL COMBINE ALL THE GREATEST ELEMENTS OF THE ABOVE CHARACTERS AND STEAL THE MOVIE. F’ Eric Bana, he was the WORST Hulk ever. And who’s Chris Pine and why does he think he can be Kirk? Sylar from Heroes ain’t got nothing on the MILF dude that got Maria at the end of H&KGTW. Simon Pegg? Please. Who even UNDERSTANDS those blokes to even get British humor?
The only faults I see in you John Cho are the following:
1. You graduated from Cal one year too early to meet me.
2. I never saw the voice over work you did on Kim Possible.
3. You played a douche on How I Met Your Mother named Jeff Coatsworth (but i like the adopted Korean kid reference. Very socially conscious those writers are).
But all those faults are just me being picky. Two more things:
1. My love for you is completely brotherly. You are my hyeongje, as I am yours.
2. Out of all the references above, only one came from IMDB and not from the back of my head. And that was the Kim Possible reference. Does anyone have an AVI of that episode?
Wait, I just realized I wrote this whole thing without bitchin, as this website was fully intended. I originally wanted to talk about how John Cho was the only Asian-American actor to NOT sell out to make a show or movie (but then I got sidetracked). Cho never had to do any of the following: learn karate (Dustin Nguyen/Kelly Hu), get nekkid (Tia Carrera), play an effeminate straight man (B.D. Wong), play the best friend that will never get the girl (Nathan Nishiguchi), or play an Asian slave trader or refugee (all the Asians in the movie Crash). Congrats on that John Cho.