Now that we’ve been able to put to bed our 5 year long obsession with finding a decent burrito in this town, we’ve moved onto our next elusive obsession: a decent bowl of pho.
We’ve hardly made any mention of restaurants that serve the fabulous Vietnamese soup noodles before, mostly because the ones that have dotted the landscape have never served a bowl worth mentioning. A couple of months ago there was some rumbling from pho fans about Nam 1975, the new restaurant with a menu so large it’s more like an encyclopedia of Vietnamese cuisine. Sadly, amongst Nam’s hits and misses, it was a big miss for us, with the broth a little too sweet and the noodles a little too yielding. Not bad, but it didn’t kill the craving for the stuff we devoured every day in Ho Chi Minh City (and Los Angeles).
Now comes the punny Pho King, whose pho is the closest we’ve yet encountered to the real deal. A good pho broth is a mysterious potion of simmered bones, oxtails, steak, and spices that takes hours to prepare, and Pho King has got the best in town. We ordered the combo bowl today (an oddly priced 31 RMB), which includes thin slices of flank steak, tripe, and meatballs. The flat rice noodles were firmer than Nam’s, but they shared the same weird characteristic we’ve encountered of all pho in Shanghai in that they’re wide noodles, as opposed to the thin ones we’re used to (am I missing something about pho noodles here?).
So it’s not the greatest pho in the world. The amount of meat offered is underwhelming, the basil and bean sprouts similarly so. But the broth, a gilded stock whose flavor fittingly overwhelms the paltry “everything else” in the huge bowl, that makes this the best pho in Shanghai. That may not be the most flattering of monikers, but at this point it’s Pho King that wears the crown.
Pho King – 1/F No. 458 Jiangsu Lu, near Xuanhua lu (江苏路458号舜元弘基天地1楼, 近宣化路) Tel: 3250-5760 Hours: 11:30am-9pm
Eric Hu is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news and gossip about Shanghai’s food scene to food at shanghaiist.com.