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By Manda Bear
Traditionally a northern Vietnamese breakfast specialty, Beef Pho is now eaten throughout the country at any time of day. And it has become one of the most popular noodle soup in San Francisco Bay Area, especially in Silicon Valley. Chicken Pho is coming in second, a perfect soup for a cold night or to cure a hangover; but don’t we forget our vegetarian/vegan fellows, vegan Pho has become so popular in the greenest state of America. We got you covered!
With almost 400,000 Vietnamese first and second generation live here in Northern California, and over 150,000 Vietnamese in the condensed populated Silicon Valley, no wonder when I want to get a good bowl of authentic Northern style Pho, San Jose is where I go first.
Pho Ha Noi San Jose – Phở Bắc – Northern Style Pho
969 Story Road, Ste #6048
San Jose, CA 95122
Phone: (408) 239-0888
When I crave for Pho Tai Dap (literally mean hand-tenderized or hand-pounded rare beef Pho), and when my mother is too busy to cook, I come here for it.
They use the highest quality of beef USDA prime flank steak that I’ve ever seen at any restaurant in the US. The meat is tender, sweet, topping off with a bit of ginger and plenty of green onion, oh mine! They cook over 180 lbs of bone and bone-marrow just to serve you 200 bowls of beef Pho. There is no place like Pho Ha Noi San Jose serves this kind of Northern region Pho. And you order fresh noodles (wider flat rice noodle to go with it), Whoala, you have yourself a bowl of goodness gracious noodle soup!
The wife and husband team here are the most kind-hearted people I know. They have helped so many people in our communities here, from the recent wildfires in Sonoma and Napa Valley, to the hurricane Irma and Harvey; from the recent flooded victims in Central Vietnam to the recent wildfires in LA; just for that alone, they get my vote for their relentless philanthropy.
Turtle Tower – Phở Bắc – Northern Style Pho
645 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone: (415) 409-3333
Another very authentic Pho place that quite popular in San Francisco. They are famous for Pho Ga (Chicken Pho noodle soup). This is more noodle house than a restaurant but it is airy, bright and cleaner than when they first opened their 1st location in 2000. They do northern style Pho which is not as widespread as the usual southern Vietnam pho joints most people are familiar with.
If you come here be adventurous, try their Pho Gà Lòng (pho ga with giblets: heart, gizzard, liver, and other organs). They use free-range chicken and freshly prepared daily, you will be in for a treat.
The surrounding area is sketchy-ish but most of the time it’s fine to walk around during the day.
Pho Papa – Phở Nam – Southern Style Pho
1611 E Capitol Expy
San Jose, CA 95121
Phone: (408) 270-0600
Pho Papa is a new place with light wooden tables and chairs, an unusual approach for a Pho place. They even offer few seats at the kitchen reminds me of some Ramen Bar. They offer a reasonable price, friendly, and good service. The broth is yummy, sweeter, darker broth, but not as sweet as typical Southern Pho restaurants in Silicon Valley and they give you plenty of garnish: bean sprout, basil, lime, and jalapeño.
Check out their spare rib bone soup on the side – tender, meaty, and falling off the bones goodness.
Pho King – Phở Nam – Southern Style Pho
638 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94606
Phone: (510) 444-0448
Sticky tables, obnoxious menu, hush and rush service, just your typical pho restaurant that gets it, and doesn’t care much about your average Yelp reviews.
Darker and sweeter broth, Southern Vietnamese style Pho, well-priced for this part of Oakland, the East Bay. You definitely get more for your bucks here. you can really stretch your dollar here at Pho King. The Combination Pho is what you go for, besides other dishes such as Bun Bo Hue, another popular dish here.
Don’t expect service here, but if you want a quick fix of piping hot broth and feel like rolling in Pho King in your Pajama, it’s OK too.
Golden Bamboo – Vegan Pho
3245 S White Rd
San Jose, CA 95148
Phone: (408) 270-8350
The place is always packed at lunchtime and during the full moon Lunar calendar for Vietnamese Buddhists to eat vegan food. The place is quite small, but the ambiance is warm and inviting. Plenty of exotic tropical flowers and plants decorated throughout the restaurant, Bird of Paradises remind me of Hawaii and always fresh plants here. So if you are allergic to plants and flowers, be careful. Gorgeous lightings at night, soft easy listening music, set you in a super Zen mood.
They offer Vegan Pho or Faux Chicken Lime Leaf Pho, they are both equally tasty, light broth, faux meat, tofu, green veggies, plenty of fresh veggies and herbs, surely satisfy your craving for healthier Pho.
Besides Pho, they have plenty of other delicious dishes for vegan/vegetarian to choose from, check it out.
Author: Manda Bear
Manda Bear has a passion for food and wine as a very young age. She’s currently with Dep Lifestyle Magazine San Francisco Bay Area, as a co-publisher and contributor @DepLifestyleMag @DiningOutVegas @FabMediaSF. She was a contributor for Drink Me Magazine, Viet Press USA, Studio 14 Magazine, DiningOut Magazine in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She’s a certified level II Sommelier @VintageWineSR at www.VintageWineMerchants.com on Santana Row in Silicon Valley and you can find her on YouTube for her “Wine Not” Ruou Cho Nguoi Viet by Dep Lifestyle Magazine
She’s also a PR/brand ambassador for hospitality, food, and wine industry, as well as a Branding consultant for high tech companies in Silicon Valley. She’s also a serial restaurant investor, former restaurant owner and has traveled to dine at over hundred of Michelin Star/James Beard Award-winning restaurants around the world.