In November last year, Mr Kitchen and I were in Vietnam to celebrate the wedding of our dear friend Andy to the lovely and clever Li. When we weren’t feasting and “fete-ing” with her friends and family, Li recommended that we pop by what I now consider The Most Amazing Pho Shop Ever. Actually, I’m going to have to keep calling it that since I can’t read Vietnamese, and Google translate just told me that my picture of what I thought was the name actually indicates the car park rules. Go figure.
TMAPSE is located on a bustling corner of Nha Trang, in what I believe is the Phuoc Tan area (someone is going to have to help me here–I wasn’t kidding when I said can’t read Vietnamese). There are two options on the menu: Big and Small. There is also a small refrigerator of drinks which you sort of just point to–if you’re like Mr Kitchen and our friend Mr T, who came along for the journey. Mr Kitchen and I went with Big and some sort of orange beverage. Mr T was so bowled over by his Big that he ordered another. A double-Big pho place! It really was that good!
At Western pho restaurants (at least the ones I’ve visited), you receive your soup and eat it as it is. In Vietnam, you get plates of fresh veggies (basil, lettuce leaves, and sprouts), limes, red and green chillies, and all sorts of condiments. I guess the idea is to season your meal as you see fit.
I was feeling smug about adding all sorts of things to my bowl when we suddenly spotted a very pregnant Vietnamese lady putting not one, not two but FIVE different kinds of chillies to her pho. Dried chili flakes, dried whole red chilies, chili powder, fresh green chillies and fresh red chillies. At one point, she crushed one of the red chillies against the side of her bowl, scraped in all of the seeds, and discarded the red outer parts. Because she was so badass that she didn’t need the taste–she wanted a direct route to the heat. I don’t know if she was trying to put herself in labor or what, but we were all terrifically impressed. Mr Kitchen and Mr T tried to keep up, but those chillies are no joke!
The pho itself was absurdly delicious–so fresh and clean tasting, but also with a meaty broth that was so flavorful. If only I had Mr T’s olympian eating capacity!
We finished off the afternoon with a stroll through one of the local markets. What incredible smells, colors, and sounds. I can’t think of a better way to have spent the afternoon!