The first time I had Vietnamese pho, the famed noodle and broth dish eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, was in Nha Trang, a coastal city in what used to be South Vietnam, in either 1966 or 1967.
I loved the dish then and while itâ€™s not a staple of my diet, I love it every now and then. Pho is a definitely staple in Vietnam, however, eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Itâ€™s sold in fine restaurants and as street food in many cities.
I was very please to find a new Milwaukee restaurant with the kind of pho I had in Vietnam.
Buddha Lounge, 1504 W. North Ave., a few blocks west of Oakland, has a great version of what it calls "Authentic Pho." I think the authenticity comes from the presence of tendon meat, which is served along with brisket and meatballs. The tendon is chewier than other meats and provides a fuller beef flavor to the dish and is not part of every version you can find in Milwaukee (though others certainly do include it). American tastes are not normally fond of things like tendon and, say, tripe.
This version has brisket, tendon and meatballs along with rice noodles and a garnish of scallions and cilantro. A dish of peppers, limes and bean sprouts comes alongside.
The broth of the pho is as flavorful as any Iâ€™ve ever eaten. You can get it with chicken or beef and the beef was light on the salt and heavy on beefiness. There was a smattering of onion and ginger in the broth, which is the key to the pho.
Kitchen manager Kain Nett has written a wide and varied menu with food from Vietnam, China, Thailand and Japan, including a decent selection of sushi dishes. I'm also a big fan of Buddha's banh mi.
But itâ€™s the authentic pho that will bring me back for more.
The Buddha Lounge menu and online ordering options is available here.
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