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Robin Garr

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However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Robin Garr » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:33 pm

However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

LEO's Eats with Robin Garr

Pho Bo, beef pho at Pho Cafe, thin-sliced beef served rare-pink as ordered.
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Mmm, it’s in the ‘90s again. Wouldn’t it be great to go get some steaming hot soup? How about a big bowl of pho from Pho Cafe!

No matter how much a hot bowl of creamy chowder says “winter” to you, think about the Vietnamese, and all the other nationalities that ring Asia’s tropical southeastern edge, where hot soup is a main meal, people understand that hot soup cools you off.

The theory goes like this: You don’t want to fill your innards with something cold when your outsides are hot. Too much contrast. Better to seek a zen-like balance, and if that makes you sweat, good: sweating makes you cool. That’s why fiery food is commonplace in the same tropical places that love soup for dinner. Eat your soup, make it hot and spicy, break out in a sweat. Then catch a breeze, and aaah, that’s cool.

So, with that settled, let’s not wait until the leaves fall to go get some pho. If you want to say it the Vietnamese way, by the way, utter “fuh” to rhyme with “duh,” not “foe” to rhyme with “dough.” I’m pretty sure the nice folks at Pho Cafe won’t mind either way, although they do pronounce it correctly when they answer the phone.

Pho Cafe opened at the end of May, replacing the last remaining local outlet of the Tom+Chee chain, in the short strip that’s turning into a mini-restaurant row within Bardstown Road’s larger restaurant row.

Bright tomato-soup-red booths and large black-and-white floor tiles retain a hint of its predecessor, but a quick remake with subtle off-white and dark-gray walls has brought a more upscale feel, and the kitchen area is now enclosed behind rippled frosted glass. Undraped dark-gray granite-look tables are set with simple flatware and chopsticks rolled in napkins; dishes are served on simple but attractive white earthenware.

Chef Tuan Phan and host Anderson Griffin have both been at Dish on Market, and Tuan Phan also has Asiatique on his resume. He’s put together a Vietnamese menu that’s a good bit more concise than, say, the 125 items on the bill of fare at the iconic Vietnam Kitchen, but Pho Cafe’s shorter menu won’t be unfamiliar to fans of Louisville’s South End Vietnamese favorites. ...

Read the full review on LouisvilleHotBytes,
http://www.louisvillehotbytes.com/howev ... nd-delight

Read this review also in LEO Weekly today.
https://www.leoweekly.com/2017/08/howev ... d-delight/

Pho Cafe on Bardstown
1704 Bardstown Road
916-2129
http://phocafeonbardstown.com
https://facebook.com/phocafeonbardstown
Robin Garr’s rating: 87 points
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Andrew Mellman

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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Andrew Mellman » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:51 am

"That’s why fiery food is commonplace in the same tropical places that love soup for dinner. "

While you aren't wrong, a better reason is that back in the days before refrigeration foods spoiled and/or became rancid quickly in the torrid zones, and to mask the off-taste people started using heavy/hot seasonings (which tend to mask rancidity and promote the original flavors).
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Robin Garr

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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Robin Garr » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:59 am

Andrew Mellman wrote:"That’s why fiery food is commonplace in the same tropical places that love soup for dinner. "

While you aren't wrong, a better reason is that back in the days before refrigeration foods spoiled and/or became rancid quickly in the torrid zones, and to mask the off-taste people started using heavy/hot seasonings (which tend to mask rancidity and promote the original flavors).

Could be. I've done some study in food anthropology, though and that argument - akin to the notion that kosher and halal bans on pork were related to the lack of early refrigeration - doesn't stand up too well to historical inspection.

Also, the English spent a lot of money sending tall ships to "the Spice Islands" to get pepper for similar reasons, because food spoils even in chilly Blighty. ;)
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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Andrew Mellman » Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:37 pm

Robin Garr wrote:English spent a lot of money sending tall ships to "the Spice Islands" to get pepper for similar reasons, because food spoils even in chilly Blighty. ;)


I'm not disagreeing, but in England the wealthy "enjoyed" spice on their food, while in torrid areas EVERYONE eats highly spicy foods all the time! In all the old Victorian novels, the rich had cooks who knew how to add peppers, while the poor boiled or roasted plain unseasoned meats. Even in England today, most of the Indian "take-away" places serve food that is nowhere near as spicy as you would find it in India!

I think food anthropology (like food itself) is an art, not a science . . .
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Robin Garr

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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Robin Garr » Thu Aug 03, 2017 4:34 pm

Andrew Mellman wrote:I think food anthropology (like food itself) is an art, not a science . . .

You know what real scientists say about the social sciences, Andrew! :lol:

Many happy memories of Indian food in Britain here. It seemed hot back in the day, at curry shops around Victoria Station - and all over London - but what did we know?
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Mary Anne

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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Mary Anne » Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:38 pm

I go into Pho Cafe about once a week at this point...I have the menu memorized I think...but I'm always slightly surprised people aren't lined up out the door. This is GOOD eats. I'm totally addicted to the Shaking Beef, but the Pho (both chicken and beef) and everything else I've tried is just outstanding. This place is truly a treasure. And no, I'm not being paid to plug Pho Cafe. My motivation is entirely selfish. I want Pho Cafe to stay open for a long, long time. I have to feed this Shaking Beef addiction on a regular basis. :lol:
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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by SilvioM » Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:08 pm

I completely agree with Mary. I walk by it daily and their numbers are worrying, and surprising given the quality.
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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Steve Eslinger » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:58 am

I, too, have fallen for their Shaking Beef. Probably the best I've ever had, although admittedly it's not a dish I have had very often. In fact, everything I've had there has been great, from the pho to the banh mi, to the chef's special noodle dish. So, like Mary, I encourage everyone go. Like, this week...and next! Can't afford to lose this place.
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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Alanna H » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:13 pm

I went there for the first time tonight and got the shaking beef, based on everyone raving about it, along with the veggie rolls (requested the peanut sauce instead of the fish sauce that normally comes with it). Got it to go, and had a wonderful meal when I got home. I really liked it and will definitely be back. I can't wait to try the beef pho shown in the picture, once we finally get some crisp fall weather!

Sadly, we were the only patrons in there @ 7:30. I sure hope more people start going there!
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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Steve Eslinger » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:11 am

Happy to report that the place has been much busier my last two trips. It was packed Sunday afternoon. I tried the combo pho this time and it was absolutely fantastic.
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Robin Garr

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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Robin Garr » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:22 pm

Thanks for the report, Jeff. A friend who lives nearby has been helping keep them alive with purchased of shaking beef every couple of days. :)
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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Mary Anne » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:09 am

Sunday lunch is their busy time, no question. But some nights it's very lightly populated. While I appreciate the challenge of single-handedly keeping my beloved Pho Cafe in business, I want to encourage everyone to check this place out. They will not disappoint. The shaking beef is incredible, no question, but the pho is also delicious. The eggrolls Chef Tuan rolls as tight as a cuban cigar are divine...these are not premade frozen eggrolls, they are full of flavor and crispy goodness. I keep saying I'm going to go in and just eat eggrolls one day, but then I get lured into ordering the Shaking Beef. Again. :lol:
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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Steve Eslinger » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:38 am

I guess we're tag teaming it Mary Anne, because I'm pretty much averaging once a week the past few weeks. Even when I don't order the shaking beef, my olfactory sense gets a buzz each time another patron does. Perhaps they should try to adopt Jimmy John's "free smells" tagline, that would at least be appropriate and effective in this case.
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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by Mary Anne » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:02 pm

:lol: My record was three times in one week, but I usually manage to keep it to once weekly. I've had Shaking Beef remorse on more than one occasion when I get bushy tailed and try something different...it's just so freaking perfect.
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Re: However you say it, Pho Cafe offers year-round delight

by bob.durbin » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:02 pm

Andrew Mellman wrote:"That’s why fiery food is commonplace in the same tropical places that love soup for dinner. "

While you aren't wrong, a better reason is that back in the days before refrigeration foods spoiled and/or became rancid quickly in the torrid zones, and to mask the off-taste people started using heavy/hot seasonings (which tend to mask rancidity and promote the original flavors).



I think what you and Robin are getting into is the argument between spiced and spicy, which are two different things. SPICES were used heavily in Europe after the discovery of India and southeast Asia to, not only show affluence amongst wealthy people, but also mask the off flavors of rancid meat.

SPICY, as in piquant, is a reaction to eating foods that contain capsaicin, which comes from chiles. Chiles are native to the new world and would have only been available in Europe after the discovery of the Americas during the 15th century. SPICY food, as in piquant, wouldn't have been introduced into India until well after the discovery of the Americas. One of the most well documented dishes of the Aztecs being a raw heart eaten with chiles. There are no chile peppers native to Asia. Which means that spicy foods in the sub-continent are a relatively recent thing. As is the introduction of tomatoes in Italian cuisine. This is a very common misconception regarding spicy and spiced.
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