by Brent Lee
Thanks to the Hoang family; brothers Tim and Tommy, sister Tram and most importantly, thanks to their mom, who provided all of the family recipes, we now have to venture no further than Connecticut and Van Ness.
On Presidents Day, the Hoang’s are set to open their latest incarnation of Pho 14 at 4201 Connecticut Ave., following in the footsteps of the ones in Columbia Heights (opened in April 2009) and Adams Morgan (opened 12/12/12). The menu at this Van Ness branch will be essentially the same as the ones at the other two. In fact, the very same kitchen staff will be preparing the food, at least initially. So in addition to pho, they will be serving spring rolls wrapped in rice paper and filled with shrimp and pork; the savory Vietnamese crepe stuffed with shrimp, bean sprouts, green onions, lettuce, cucumbers and either pork or chicken; as well as various rice, egg and vermicelli noodle dishes.
For a fast and easy lunch-to-go or takeout dinner for one, I often get the combination bánh mí sandwich. As a result of the French colonial influence, the baguette sandwiches at Pho 14 contain homemade paté and homemade mayonnaise and they are garnished with cilantro, jalapeno peppers, along with pickled radish and carrots.
But the main reason I plan to be a regular at Pho 14 Van Ness is for the pho. Like the “pot-au-feu” from which “pho” (pronounced “fuh”) has been theorized to have originated, the rich and complex broth that makes up this hearty soup is slow-cooked for hours – 16 to be precise – according to Tommy Hoang. The marrow-rich beef bones infuse that rich flavor along with the delicate spices of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and onions. Topped off with cilantro, bean sprouts, fresh jalapenos, sprigs of Thai basil and a squeeze of the fresh lime wedges, this will be the perfect meal to get me through the remaining cold months of winter.
Pho 14 Van Ness plans to be open daily and to deliver to the local area. I can’t wait!