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Devour 2012: Pho The Win

A visit to An Dong Market with Le Ho & Adam Ho of Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen.

Illustrations by Kim Scafuro
An Dong (5441 SE Powell Blvd.).

Shopping List

Chinese five-spice powder 
K.L.Y. Trading Co., $1.19
la lot
la lot
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
“We 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,” Le says. “Thin noodles are for pho. Thick noodles are for other soups. Pho is just one noodle soup among many Vietnamese noodle soups,” adds Adam. Le also buys packages of fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil and cilantro (99 cents to $1.99) to garnish Luc Lac’s pho.
Fish sauce 
Squid brand, $1.19
“This is the one to use for cooking. It’s got the real [anchovy] smell. All the other brands are diluted,” Le says. “We put fish sauce in everything. It’s the salty component in Vietnamese food,” Adam continues. “Sometimes you don’t understand why something tastes so good…it’s this stinky stuff.” 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.
Soy sauce 
Kikkoman, $2.29
Fresh beef eye round
$3.79 a pound
and frozen Beef bones
89 cents a pound
“Everybody knows this is pho meat,” says Adam. “Slice 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.” “I use the beef bones to make beef stock for pho,” Le says. “We 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.”
“Banh Tu Quy” dessert cakes 
$1.99 for a four-pack
Green mangoes 
$2.49 a pound