Tuesday found the Pho Kings on a business trip up to Bellingham which meant we also had the chance to grab a bite to eat in a pho shop that was new to us.
Pho Ly is located in a strip mall like many of the pho shops we visit. We were early, showing up at about quarter to noon and the place was already about half full of people including a few local Vietnamese folks. It would be full by the time we left about forty minutes later.
An older gentleman came out to give us our menus and then take our orders. We got water and then shortly thereafter a solid and healthy looking plate of the usual condiments. One of these days I’d like to see something different on those condiment plates. While I’m sure there are some similarities to a bowl of soup in Vietnam, I’m also sure that there must be differences too.
The menu at Pho Ly was just a bit different than the usual. The soups were laid out as complete soups without the usual combinations of meat. I’m sure we could have ordered any of the soups on the menu and then specified a different set of meat but that’s not how they were on the menu.
Instead there were about nine soups, from a beef soup to a combinations soup, from a hot and spicy beef soup to a vegetarian soup, a wonton soup, a chicken noodle soup and a seafood noodle soup. I must admit, it was nice to see such a nice set of options for pho soup. I stuck with the hot and spicy beef soup while others selected vegetarian and combination.
As is standard in a pho shop, our soups were delivered to us within about five minutes. They were all steaming hot with mine showing hot pepper sauce floating on top. Upon taking a sip the soup was as hot and spicy as it looked as were the bowls. There is nothing worse than luke-warm pho soup. Fortunately we were in luck.
I heaped up my generous condiment plate on top of my bowl and then put only a small amount of sriracha and hoisin sauce into mine as I could tell I’d not need anything more to spice things up. I even left the jalapenos behind on my plate.
The beef broth was rich without being too greasy - certainly not the best broth I’ve had in Seattle but among the top set of pho shops without a doubt. The noodles were a bit different than what we normally see with there being quite a lot of size variations to the noodles. They tasted the same they were just more numerous and many were thicker than other places.
I soon realized that while the spicy hotness of the soup was nice, it was also not terribly unique. I too could have put a dollop of chili sauce on my soup and called it “hot and spicy.”
Working my way through the soup I began to hunt for pieced of meat. By the looks of things I’d only gotten a portion of the thinly sliced steak with very little brisket. There was a decent amount of meat overall but I’d have to say it was on the smaller side as compared to other places.
Soon I was reaching the end of the bowl, my mouth was hot, but not too hot and my stomach was full. Overall a very good bowl of pho. We may have to return to Pho Ly on a future trip to Bellingham though that all depends on if we can find any other new pho shops.
Heat Index: A-
Overall: B+ (two out of three pho bowls)