Illustrations by Kim Scafuro
An Dong (5441 SE Powell Blvd.).
Chinese five-spice powder
Whole spices: cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves, cardamom pods, whole dried coriander seeds
K.L.Y. Trading Co., 99 cents-$1.79
Fresh thin rice-stick noodles
Rama Food, 99 cents a pound
âWe never use the dried noodles for our pho. These keep for a week or two in the fridge. You parboil them: My employees just put them in boiling water, count to 10 and take them back out. Then dump them in the bowl with the broth,â Le says. âThin noodles are for pho. Thick noodles are for other soups. Pho is just one noodle soup among many Vietnamese noodle soups,â adds Adam. Le also buys packages of fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil and cilantro (99 cents to $1.99) to garnish Luc Lacâs pho.
Squid brand, $1.19
âThis is the one to use for cooking. Itâs got the real [anchovy] smell. All the other brands are diluted,â Le says. âWe put fish sauce in everything. Itâs the salty component in Vietnamese food,â Adam continues. âSometimes you donât understand why something tastes so goodâ¦itâs this stinky stuff.â Le recommends lighter Viet Huong (also known as Three Crabs) brand fish sauce ($3.39) if you are using it as a straight condiment or dipping sauce.
Fresh beef eye round
$3.79 a pound
and frozen Beef bones
89 cents a pound
âEverybody knows this is pho meat,â says Adam. âSlice it paper thin and just stack the raw meat on top of the [parboiled] noodles in the bowl. The hot broth actually cooks the meat.â âI use the beef bones to make beef stock for pho,â Le says. âWe boil to clean them, wash them and then put the bones back in the pot and cook them for about seven hours: We boil really high for a half hour and then really low with all the spices for the rest of the time.â
âBanh Tu Quyâ dessert cakes
$2.49 a pound