In our latest installment of Phoriday goodness, myself and my compadres (aka The Pho Kings) drove up to Ballard to sample from one of the three pho shops they have on Market street. On this Phoriday our choice was Pho Big Bowl - so known because of their $19.95 giant bowl of pho everything.
I was not so hungry that I felt I could take on the “Big Bowl” so instead ordered a number ten (steak, flank and brisket) and then sat back to chat and wait for our soup to arrive.
As the large bowl was sat down in front of me my glasses fogged up a bit, the steam coming up from the broth caressing my face. It smelled nice and was obviously quite hot. My first impression was good as I knew I would be able to warm my belly with the soup I was about to eat.
Grabbing my chop sticks I spread out the noodles in the broth and took a deeper whiff. Solid beef smells greeted my hungry nose. I took my spoon and dipped it into the broth taking a sip. The soup was certainly hot, but had a thin taste to it. It was beefy but wasn’t very hearty.
Peering down into my bowl I was very disappointed in the lack of much in the way of cilantro and green onions. There were a few long strands of white onion floating around my noodles and a couple of bits of green but otherwise the bowl looked a bit bleak.
And speaking of bleak, the amount of meat in my bowl was also rather lacking. I would have to say that of all of the pho places we have tried, Pho Big Bowl had the least meat of any. Looking around at the other Pho Kings bowls I found they too lacked much in the meat department.
The condiment plate was set up for four people to share, a first for me as I’d never seen a place offer more than a plate for two. There was plenty of condiments to go around however so I grabbed branch of basil, it’s leaves clean and fresh, huge jalapeno wedges, and a pile of bean sprouts, also very fresh and put them into my soup. I noticed the lime wedges were very generous as I squeezed one into my soup. There were no other condiments available, again the portion was fine but the variety lacking.
After topping up my bowl with Sriracha and Hoisin sauce I started to dig in. The broth had been hot enough to last through my photos and toppings which I was grateful for.
We all slurped and chatted and slurped some more as we worked our way through our soups. We also had a side of deep fried pork spring rolls which were tasty if a bit greasy, not at all surprising for something that is deep fried.
In the end I found my bowl of soup filling if uninspired. If you decide to try them out you won’t get a bad bowl of soup, but with so many other pho shops throughout Seattle perhaps you may want to find another place to “get your pho” on.
Heat Index: A
Overall: C (one out of three pho bowls)