People often ask me, "Why did you leave NYC?" It's true, I just sorta packed my bags and ditched my glamorous job, my wonderful friends, my comfortable routine, and the GREATEST! CITY! IN! THE! WORLD! (at least the greatest metro system in the world).
All for what?
I'll tell you what. The Three Major Food Groups:
It is no coincidence that I would leave NYC for these three foods, the best of which you can find in the Bay Area. I tell people this, and they sort of laugh it off, as though this couldn't possibly be the real reason. But this is no joke. We may not have the "Top Chef Masters" but when it comes to the Three Major Food Groups, the Bay fucking swoops!
My search for the best pho in the East Bay ended when I found Pho Ao Sen. The clouds parted, and a chorus of birds chirped in melodic unison.
I was won over by the neon lights. Indoors.
In my humble opinion, Ao Sen definitely make the best pho broth around. It is piping hot, flavorful, and goes deep. Most importantly, it doesn't leave you with numbing MSGmouth.
Pho with all the beef part fixins.
But let us move on from pho because apparently, summer is here in the Bay Area (not holding my breath). Instead of pho, I'm gonna share with you my newest obsession: The Bun.
What wildly glorious colors! This one, the Bun Thit Noong Tom, comes with magnificently marinated grilled pork and prawns. It's essentially a cold vermicelli salad. Perfect for the hotness.
CHECK OUT THE PLUMPNESS!
They are gorgeous. This makes me so happy I want to cry. Tears.
Drizzle the tangy fish sauce concoction over this and mix it all up! A delightful garden of fresh bean sprouts, finely chopped lettuce, and mint awaits you:
By standard, bun will always have the charred pork. Shrimp and imperial rolls are extra credit. The pork has been a bit too fatty both times I had this, but I'll let that slide.
Pho Ao Sen is on the corner of International and 2nd Avenue. They close super early, like Turtle Tower and many other pho joints (since pho is more of a breakfast food in Vietnam), so go early.
Nevermind. GO RIGHT NOW.
PS: I would choose a divey restaurant from the Three Major Food Groups over Le Bernardin any day. I fear that I'm becoming one of those gross Californians who loooooooooves California and won't shut up about it. Apologies in advance.