So a few years ago, a Vietnamese friend clued me in to the joys of nước béo, the little cup of “broth” that you order with your phở that comes with a thick layer of fat. Float a little bit of the fat on your phở to make it extra delicious. Another friend told me that if I asked for nước béo, they would immediately know I was a connoisseur of phở, or at least a serious practitioner, not just some chistoso.
I went to Saigon Bistro yesterday in the Uwajimaya food court, ordered phở and asked for nước béo. The guy apologized and said he didn’t have any…. He explained “most our customers, 90% are just Americans, not Vietnamese people, they don’t know nước béo.” Later he gave the key: they make their broth from boiling bones, so it doesn’t make the rich golden nước béo, like if they had made it with tendons and other fatty parts. “We just boil bones.”
Oh… that explains a lot…..
Next phởssignment: keep an eye out for hành dấm, the pickled onions.