Today I leave San Francisco. The eating has been terrific, though I’m well aware that flying out of New York, hitting the ground with a list of restaurants, a few selected targets, and a crowd of people I want to see is not exactly “daily life.” What if I approached New York this way? Might be interesting, though I’d never get any cooking done. (And I’d turn into Sam Sifton.)
In any case, I’m staying in the Tenderloin – generally accepted to be the least attractive of the core neighborhoods. But it does have one very strong advantage: there are more Vietnamese restaurants per block than anywhere I’ve ever been except Vietnam. So yesterday, not only sated but stuffed beyond belief from my hamburger lunch and sizable meal at Farina the day before I decided to skip breakfast and have a light lunch of pho at Turtle Towers, where the pho – the super-sturdy meal-as-soup served in much of Vietnam – came highly recommended.
There was only one disappointment. When I was in Vietnam, every bowl of pho came with a huge plate of herbs: mint, basil, cilantro, culantro, sometimes others. Like an herb salad, really. And you’d merrily go about tearing those up and mixing them into your soup, providing incredible flavor and crunch.
That didn’t happen. But I did, for $8, get a huge bowl (I ordered a “large,” which was unnecessary), of delicious meaty broth, rice noodles, perfectly cooked brisket, thin-sliced “rare” (read: raw) beef – quite tender – a few shreds of tripe, and enough herbs to at least add some flavor.
Nice. I’m going out for more, right now, and for some banh mi for the plane ride home. Then I might tackle a pho recipe over the weekend.
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