I often struggle to write about what I eat. One reason is because I don’t write very good. Another: drop a plate of food in front of me and I’ll be halfway through it before realizing I should, you know, take a breath. By then I’ve lost all concept of nuance. Other times, however, I eat something so complex that my feeble mind, and feebler tongue, just can’t parse it. This week I had the pleasure of eating such a dish: the beef pho at Quang Restaurant.
Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup. Experts argue that it developed in the early 20th Century after the colonizing French brought their food culture to Vietnam, French pot-au-feu mixed with Vietnamese ingredients and techniques, and pho became a thing of its own. One culture making room for another culture? Hmm. Weird. Anyway… Quang’s pho is monumental. It’s exceptionally complex and tasty, but, literally, the portion is enormous. Two of four of us ordered pho, and the look of regret on the other two’s faces when they realized they could have gotten twice the food for half the price was… thrilling. (I can’t help it, I’m a monster.) The massive bowl is filled to the brim with broth, noodles, veggies, and meat. The broth, however, steals the show — so clear that I could almost see to the bottom of the bowl, with a deep brown color and such tantalizing smells that I, you know, forgot to take a breath. We’re deep into summer, which doesn’t seem like soup season, but somehow Quang made me forget that I had been sweating mere minutes ago, just from walking through the parking lot. The soup wasn’t hot as it was warming. It warmed my soul, watching the meat slowly cook in the broth, as I volleyed between the tender beef, chewy noodles, and crunchy onions. If you know food in the Twin Cities, you know Quang. But if it’s been a while (or never), I suggest sprinting back there immediately. Don’t worry about the heat — let the soup warm you.