TLO Restaurant Review: Phở Thái Nguyên
9:25 AM EST on January 24, 2024
Late last week, after enduring another cold, rainy, dreary day of near-evangelical shaming proportions, all I wanted was a warm hoodie, a hot drink, and, most importantly, to put my waiting mouth around a big bowl of phở to steam the hours away.
Fortunately, Oklahoma City has me covered.
Thanks, in part, to the influx of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants who made their way here in the 1970s and 1980s, Oklahoma City has one of the most vibrant phở districts in the country along the NW 23rd and Classen corridor, offering what seems like dozens of various places to get a hot bowl of the famed soup, its prescribed pile of fresh basil, mint, and bean sprouts, and other hot Vietnamese and Chinese entrees.
For this brothy trip, I decided to have a big bowl of that wonderful stuff at Phở Thái Nguyên (3221 N. Classen), the yellow and red spot located just across the street from the mail center.
As the warming atmosphere of its innards thawed my frozen bones, I ordered the Vietnamese Coffee ($6.00), a blended cold drink that brought me a huge buzz after a few sips.
As I looked over the menu with my girlfriend, and the caffeinated beverage brought me back to reality, I immediately knew what I wanted.
I started with the old standby: Deep-fried Spring Rolls ($2.69).
Armed with three massive rolls, this appetizer was packed with a solid cabbage base, lean bits of meat, and shaved carrots, dropped and fried ever-so-slightly in hot oil. When dipped into the chili sauce, it is perfection in the world of appetizers.
I should have ordered another round!
My patient girlfriend started things with a solid-state food order – Steamed Rice with BBQ Pork ($12.99). Served on a bed of sliced tomatoes, flayed carrots, and sliced cucumbers, with a large dollop of white rice, we were air-dropped into a sea of sweaty grilled pork pieces.
This is her regular order at Phở Thái Nguyên, and I know why.
With the crafty taste of the raw vegetables, it provides a whole treasure trove of succulent pork, barely drowning in the sweet sauce. She loved every bite and will order it again and again and again.
Phở Thái Nguyên offers lots of unique phở dishes, but, this time, I went to the dish that's always nourished me since eating here a few years back – the Rare Steak, Flank, Brisket, and Tendon Noodle ($12.99).
It’s truly a sight to behold, and in my opinion, the best steaming phở in town. Besides the rice noodles and beef broth, you have a meaty selection of rare steak, flank cuts, brisket, and tendon. With the garnishment of sprouts and other embellishments, it is ready to taste.
And what a taste it is. A whole spoonful permanently fills the whole body with enough warmth for the whole day, and makes a cold, dreary January day feel like a small slice of heaven.
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