What the pho? 

It is a broth-based soup served hot with rice noodles; items on the side include basil, mint leaves, lime, bean sprouts and jalapeños. Vary the spice level with Sriracha, fish, chile or hoisin sauces, and it’s the perfect antidote for wintertime blues or sniffles.

Pho Lien Hoa, 901 N.W. 23rd, is a longtime favorite among pho lovers in the city. It is owned by Hoang Lee, who moved to OKC from Vietnam with his family about 11 years ago.

“When we first bought the restaurant, we saw just two or three people come in every day. Now, it is at full capacity, and sometimes, it’s hard to find a seat for lunch,” said Lee.

Pho Lien Hoa serves a traditional beef and rice noodle pho that claims to be one stop short of an actual trip to northern Vietnam, where Lee learned to make pho from his father.

“We prepare our broth and cook it for more than 18 hours. It takes a lot of time, but that is why it is so flavorful,” said Lee.

If you’re in, try the pho tai nam gau (rare steak, flank and brisket). Ask for thin slices of rare beef on the side, then add them to the hot broth to finish cooking. Order their fresh spring rolls (a rice paper roll with shrimp, pork, lettuce and rice vermicelli) as a starter.

Pho Cuong, also located in the Asian District at 3016 N. Classen, is highly recommended. Try the pho tai (beef) pictured and side of spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce. Another great option is the bun bo Hue, a Huestyle beef soup (not pho), spiced with lemon grass. As is the way with most pho places in OKC, the restaurant is nothing fancy: It’s a simple noodle house with great-tasting food.

Adjacent to Super Cao Nguyen supermarket, Mr. Pho, 1133 N.W. 25th, serves up pho ga, the Vietnamese version of chicken noodle soup. Boasting one of the most diverse menus in a pho joint, you can order Korean barbecue to pad thai.

Slurping is encouraged at these pho-nomenal OKC soup shops.

Photo by Mark Hancock

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