Let's talk today on the subject of one of my favorite foods in the world: pho. But this is not just any kind of pho. I'm talkin' FRIED PHO. No joke, I crave this every single day and have been dying to share this discovery with you. It's my ideal debut post for this sparkling new site.
My dear friend Khoi has been talking about this place, Dac Phuc, forever. He and his wife Sarah live in SF, but drive down to the South Bay just for this restaurant. I received a text from him one Sunday afternoon that he would be coming down-- would I want to try this place with him and Sarah? It was in the middle of a rush at work, but I literally dropped everything and left as soon as I possibly could. PRIORITIES PEOPLE!
Dac Phuc is located right smack in the middle of downtown San Jose. It has changed ownership in recent years, and has gotten a hip facelift, at least out front.
Inside is super mellow, lots of tables and booths. I hear it gets super packed for lunch.
They have this pale ale called Chau Tien that is brewed at Anderson Valley Brewing Company (of Boont Amber Ale fame). I'm not huge on pale ales but this was a damn good bottle of beer-- very fruity. I'm reading that it was created by a Vietnamese-American in the 80s.
As usual, I let Khoi do all the ordering. Couldn't have it any other way when you've got someone who actually speaks the language with everyone at the restaurant.
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you: FRIED PHO.
What came out was literally a glob of brown sauce doused with beef, bok choy, onions and tomatoes. But do you see it? The white crispy strands of FRIED PHO????
In concept, it's basically like the Hong Kong style pan-fried noodles, where you get the swampy sauce over crisp egg noodles. I'm not the biggest fan of this dish cause the noodles get all mushy. But behold, this is pho, so you get a completely different consistency. You definitely get a great crunch factor when you bite in, but it's miraculously spongy within. It was a total and complete foodgasm.
LOOK AT THIS! UMAMIPORN ALERT!
Of course, we also got a regular bowl of pho. Duh. It was delicious-- definitely the best pho I've had in these parts (which says a lot, since this is the Mecca of Vietnamese food). The beef came out raw just like I like it, and the noodles were more square-shaped than round.
Khoi instructed me that you know that the soup is house-made when the broth is a bit foggy and not super clear. (GASP! All pho joints don't make their own soup??? Khoi: "Kayoko, most places just use broth from a can." Kayoko: "Shut the fuck up!" HEARTBREAK!.)
You see the soup is a bit speckled? Yes.
You know what else? FRIED PHO is not on the menu! Khoi, I owe you, bigtime. I seriously feel like I stumbled upon the greatest Vietnamese restaurant secret in the world. And now it's your secret too.
This post is dedicated to Midtown Lunch, who emailed asking for a San Jose Vietnamese resto suggestion earlier this week. He just moved to to LA from NYC, which is sad for Midtowners, but happy for ME. Welcome to California, Zach! Let's tear it up!
198 West Santa Clara Street
San Jose, CA