If I tell you “Food & Seattle”, what comes to mind? Salmon, oysters, Theo’s chocolate? As surprising as it may sound, the capital of coffee is also the capital of broth! Not any broth though: Pho. This traditional broth in Vietnamese cuisine will have cooked for over six hours (mostly 12!) prior to being being poured over a bowl of rice noodles, thin slices of beef, green onions, and cilantro. The raw beef will be cooked within minutes in the hot broth. The bowl of Pho is then accompanied with soybean sprouts, Thai basil, lime wedges, and hoisin sauce or some sort of chili sauce. It’s up to you to add these to your bowl. I’m a big fan of Thai basil and a squeeze of lime juice.

As you can imagine, Pho is quite popular in Seattle when the rain comes. Although, thanks to the aromatic herbs and lime juice, it does have a refreshing side that is much appreciated during the summer. After all, Pho comes from a tropical climate!

The broth serves as a base, but Pho offers many possibilities: all sorts of beef cuts (brisket, sirloin, flank…), meatballs, chicken, shrimps, tofu and veggies for the vegetarians. There is something for everyone.

In one word, okay two, Pho is the quintessence of… comfort food.

To what do we owe this pho phenomenon in Seattle?

Or rather… to whom? With the fall of Saigon at the end of the war in 1975, thousands of Vietnamese made their way to refugee camps in California. This wave was the first of many. At the time, the governor of Washington State, Dan Evans, baffled by the non-welcoming attitude of California’s governor towards these refugees, decided to invite them to the state. This is how thousands of Vietnamese found their new home in Seattle.

Over time, one family started making Pho and soon it became the most popular dish on the menu. The rest is history, but here is a must-watch video on the topic. So much emotions for a bowl of Pho!

Best Pho in town

With as many Pho places as Starbucks in Seattle, the choice is certainly not lacking! Here are 3 suggestions:

  • The very first Pho restaurant, named Pho Bac, has opened several locations since its opening in 1982, but is still in business at its original location: 6034, 3300 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144.
  • If you are up to the challenge or wish to share a bowl with about four friends (Yes 4!), try Pho Big Bowl. The name says it all: it serves the largest bowl of Pho you can find. 2248 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107.
  • Last but not least, my favorite —which means a lot, being a pho expert and all: Pho An. Located in Lake City, Pho An offers a flavorful broth and service here comes with a smile. 12526 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125 And since we are talking authentic cuisine, let me share another hidden gem… basically in front of Pho An, you’ll find one of the best Japanese restaurant for sushi and sashimi: Toyoda Sushi.

Mmm all this food talking got me hungry! What about you? Pho or not?

Heloise De Smet