Our Favorite Pho Spot: Pho Hai Yen
We've been long remiss in writing up this place. We've been coming here habitually for the past 6?, 7? or is it 8 years now? Most Saturdays if were in town (sometimes Sunday) you'll find us here for lunch. Getting to know the family that owns and runs Pho Hai Yen has been just as much a joy as the Pho.
Seriously! This is the best pho broth we've found in town. Well balance and rich. Not over the top with the anise and clove or even the palm sugar. Many places we've tried, at least one of these is too much or all too little. Mom takes pride, and time, in making the broth herself. Not even the daughters who work here know the full recipe.
Nearly the whole family contributes in some way. Mom, of course, makes the broth and works mostly back-of-house on the weekends. Dad's also around during the week. We usually see the daughters, Tracy and Diane on the weekends. Grandmother is usually around as well helping out in the kitchen.
I can't say enough about the broth for the Pho. It's hard me for me at times to put in the obligatory peppers, basil, sprouts and lime and not just drink the broth. No secrets about the recipe are ever divulged other than it takes about 6 hours to make. The noodles aren't the dried rice noodles one typically gets at the supermarket. Rather, these are fresh noodles that you can only find in the refrigerated section of your local Asian grocery.
I typically get the basic Pho with steak and meatballs. When you order pho in most places with the rare beef, it is, of course, already in the broth which cooks it immediately. Here, they know to put the raw meat around the lip of the bowl so I can add it in as I eat and it's not instantly cooked through. Perhaps a little too carnivorous for many of you, but that's how I like it!
Kevin will mix it up from week to week. Some times he'll join me with the basics, but more often the #35, Spicy Seafood, no noodles, just extra vegetables. Kevin's not usually shy about spice, but the this, he has to ask to dial it back a bit.
One other item that's not on the menu but is on every table that we must tell you about is the chili pepper paste in oil. OMG, this is so good! Great flavor and really is truly spicy. We've begged them to bottle and sell this for take home. We have been known to take a little container of it home with us. Great condiment for many dishes at home. I even use it in making beef jerky.
Oh! I nearly forgot to mention the Fresh Rolls. These, too, are some of the best we've found. Shrimp, pork, rice noodles, lettuce, as you would expect and a crispy fried tofu pirouette in the middle. Of course, served with peanut sauce - don't forget to mix in some of the chili oil!
The menu does include a wide variety of other Vietnamese dishes as well as others from throughout Asia. There's something for everyone. Particularly popular are the assortment of bubble teas.
Whether dine in of take out, I'm sure you'll find something here to enjoy. Say "Hi" for us when you stop by.