As the weather gets colder, we often search for hot noodle soups for lunch or dinner to soothe our throats and warm our bodies. Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of hot broth, rice noodles, meats and herbs, is a popular and fast solution to this problem. It comes out fast, it’s steaming hot and there is just something about being able to dip your meat into hoisin and sriracha sauce (if you’re into that sort of thing). We have listed some of the not-so-well known but nevertheless delicious pho places you can try around the Berkeley area.
1717 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94703
What to get: We recommend the Pho Ga, which means chicken pho, because a lot of time is spent making the chicken stock. It is comparably lighter and less intense compared to the broth in beef pho. There is just the right mix of mint, onion, lime juice and ginger with the stock mixture. Be sure to add in the lime wedges on the side for the full flavor.
Ambiance: Little Saigon is a small shop run by a husband and wife duo who have a small, attentive serving staff. Food is ready in 10 minutes or fewer, and the majority of the customers are working people ordering takeout. We have also seen professors eating here!
Tips: If you are ordering a Pho Tai (pho with only rare steak meat), you can ask for your meat on the side to put in the hot soup yourself. Also, there is usually a daily special for about $5 posted outside the restaurant every day.
1782 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709
What to get: Oriental Restaurant serves both Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine, but we would recommend you try the Beef Combination Pho (about $7.50). The portions are large for the price, the meat is plenty and the broth is flavorful without being too salty.
Ambiance: Oriental Restaurant is a small restaurant that brings in many loyal customers, both local and new, because it serves a variety of options, including gluten-free noodles, pho and fresh rolls. You will often see the owner conversing and joking with the customers.
Tips: Remember to bring cash, because Oriental Restaurant does not accept credit cards. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.
3905 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611
What to get: We recommend you try the $12 Monster Pho Combo because it is a delicious combination of brisket, rare steak, flank, tendon, meatballs and tripe in a huge bowl. The broth is clean (probably because of the long simmer of beef bones, oxtail and flank in the broth), the meat is tender and they offer extra fresh herb and vegetable garnishes on request!
Ambiance: Monster Pho has a very clean and nice environment for sitting down, eating and hanging out with friends. There are TVs on the walls playing sports and light music in the background. The service is phenomenal, and the waiters are very attentive to all the requests. It becomes busy during dinner hour, with a long waiting line, so be sure to come early.
Tips: You can take the 51B or the 51A bus to get to Monster Pho. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.