Finding Vegetarian Phở That's Good?
..is NOT EASY! You learn that quickly as you hop from one place to the other. Of course, that's by a very good reason as it's traditionally historically meant to be made in a pork broth. Now, to suit our varied palettes and dietary choices, thank goodness, sometimes you do see a veggie version on some menus. However they just lack that same flavor punch and umami so to say.
So what does Elizabeth Street Cafe do that no one else in my experience comes even close to? Well, the secret I realized is in the "hot bean paste" and their broth. It was one easy winter afternoon on the weekend, and my sinuses were just not feeling right. It was a Saturday, my no-meat day that I have been practicing since I can recall from my childhood days. It runs in the family, based on the Hindu God we believe in. In Hinduism, there are many gods and goddesses and each one has a 'designated day'. Ours happens to be a Saturday, and that sacrifice is so deeply embedded as a means to pay our gratitude for all that life has bestowed on us, that showing restraint just feels good. Not to mention, saving the planet and the environment too in teeny tiny way :) So, as much as possible, I try and abide by it. In all honesty though, there have been a few times when I just couldn't.
Well, this particular Saturday I was glad I went for the veggie pho 34A, as I just fell in LOVE with it; In fact, IMO, it tastes better than their seafood or the pork broth on their menu. I added chilli oil and topped it off with toasted sesame and herbs. Mmmm.. heaven!!
So I went back again and now, one of my favorite things to order off the menu is their Veg Pho. Of course, I am the unusual customer there as they have so many many dishes and each one just hits the spot. No wonder it made the list for Rachel Ray's Austin Travel Guide!
You must have heard about the huge publicity it got, from Rachel Ray's Top 9 things to do in Austin, when she called this restaurant out. In her words:
People watch. Eat. Repeat. :)