I know you’re tired of this merciless wet weather. Mother Nature can be so inconsiderate, intruding on well laid plans like sunny spring Presidential visits and early morning outdoor workouts. But, as with all things, it could be worse. Think about our poor friends in California, suffering a terrible drought and desperately pining to be in our puddle hopping shoes. If thinking about California’s water woes doesn’t ease your blues, there’s another way to beat your soggy doldrums, and it goes like this- a piping hot bowl of pho.
Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup that includes broth, rice noodles, and usually beef or chicken. Once your delicious bowl of pho arrives, you dress it up with spices, sauces, and herb garnishes. The best pho in Charlotte is on Central Avenue at Pho Hoa in Plaza Midwood. The key to good pho is in the broth and Pho Hoa’s is consistently flavorful and authentic. Even though Pho Hoa is a franchise, it’s locally owned with the added bonus of a local dive atmosphere. The best testament to the legitimacy of an ethnic restaurant are the patrons, and every service at Pho Hoa includes a healthy number of Asian diners. This place is the real deal.
What to order
Pho Hoa has an extensive menu with a variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes to choose from. The pho options are tiered-beginners, just regular, and adventurers. If you’re new to pho, you might want to try the Pho Tai, which is the noodle soup with thin slices of eye round steak. The steak is raw but sliced so thinly that it cooks to the perfect temperature in the scalding broth. Don’t freak out about this, your steak really does get cooked by the time you’re ready to eat.
Once you’ve decided which pho you want to order, you have another important decision to make – Large or Extra Large. The difference is basically in the portion of noodles and there’s no food shaming here, I’m 5’2” and can neatly put away an XL bowl of pho with little evidence left behind, so go for the XL if you want.
How to eat pho like you know what you’re doing
Your pho will arrive quickly and you might feel unprepared about what to do next with your behemoth bowl of pho. Get your soup spoons and chopsticks ready, here’s your pho pro game plan:
(1) Take a sip of the broth to get your palate going. Mix the noodles and beef to make sure the beef has a chance to finish cooking.
(2) Garnish the pho with the bean sprouts and herbs. The sooner you get these garnishes in, the more aromatic the broth becomes as the heat infuses the herbs and softens the sprouts.
(3) Season the pho to taste with the lime, hoisin sauce, sriracha, fish sauce, and the chili sauce provided at each table, then mix well. Season at your own risk, chili sauce doesn’t mess around.
(4) Arm yourself with the soup spoon in the left hand and chopsticks in the right, or vice versa for you lefties. Then either slurp the noodles up with your chopsticks and alternate with broth in the soup spoon or go with the two step, less messy, plan which is to use the chopsticks to place noodles and garnishes on the soup spoon and then dip in the broth for a perfect bite each time.
Hint: If you don’t know how to use chopsticks, first ask yourself why you haven’t learned to use chopsticks yet and then ask the wait staff for a fork. Trust me, if you’re chopstick inept, using a fork will make the experience more enjoyable and don’t worry, the nice wait staff won’t chastise you (to your face), but your friends might.
In Vietnam, pho is traditionally enjoyed at breakfast, which explains why Pho Hoa is open at 8:30 every morning. In addition to being a soul comforting food to keep the crush of rainy days at bay, pho can help cure hangovers, heartbreak, and colds. Don’t be sketched out by the modest exterior or the funky décor indoors, give Pho Hoa a try. Charlotte is lucky to be home to a thriving Vietnamese community, one of the benefits of which is authentic, phonomenal cuisine.
3000 Central Ave Ste 1
Charlotte, NC 28205
Sun-Thurs 8:30 am-9 pm; Fri-Sat 8:30 am-10 pm