Let’s start with this: it’s pronounced “fuhh”. Which is strange to say and I still catch myself calling “foe” because “fuhh” feels weird without the, um, other letters that usually come at the end of that sound.
Ryan got us both hot stone massages as a Christmas gift: I have NEVER had a professional massage, and on the drive over my stomach felt like fists were in it punching organs. I was nervous and felt worried and self-conscious. WELL! All of that anxiety seeped out my skin/brain once it started. I knew my body and muscles would feel better afterwards, but what I did not expect was the sort of “high” I had for the rest of the day. I told Ryan it felt like I took a muscle relaxer and some sort of happiness drug at the same time. I was cozy and pleasantly zoned out, kind of useless as a human being but… in a good way (?).
What I’m getting at, is we were hungry and I was not about to cook since my arms were in bliss-heaven. It was a cold, rainy December day and we had these newly mushed-up bodies… so when Ryan suggested we visit the Pho #1 (we hadn’t been in too long), the suggestion could only be described as: perfect.
Pho #1 has seen new ownership in the last two years, so it got a bit of a makeover inside and a revised menu with a vegetarian section. I have often described pho as a vegan equivalent of whatever sort of medicinal properties chicken noodle soup is supposed to provide when you have a cold.
A short background: Pho is a hot broth soup with unique flavors which can include lemongrass, star anise, and cinnamon. Throw in a hefty amount of vermicelli (thin rice noodles), veggies and tofu and then you get to the best part…
The BEST part is the tray of extra goodies you get to add to the soup in any ratios you like. (I dub it “interactive soup”.) Bean sprouts, cilantro, thai basil, hot peppers, hoisin sauce and sriracha, fresh lime… The end result is bursting with flavor and fills you up. And if you add a lot of hot peppers your sinuses will feel refreshed as well.
The soup is clean tasting and the veggies are steamed just right – a little crunch but easy to chew. This also takes some work, which I believe helps you slow down and enjoy the meal. One hand for chopsticks to pile some noodles and veggies into those big chinese soup spoons which you have in your other hand. Dunk the full spoon into the broth, then open wide. It’s a little slurppy, it’s a little messy, but I promise you this: you won’t care. It’s too good to care.
What we ordered: spring roll appetizer – rice noodles, fresh basil, and fried tofu in a rice paper with a peanut dipping sauce; I (obviously) got the vegetarian pho – tofu, veggies, and all the extras (if you like spicy food, I recommend adding just enough chili paste ’til the broth turns light red); Ryan got the vermicelli with veggies and fried tofu which also came with a peanut sauce.
- Pho #1
- 1500 Union Blvd. Allentown, PA
- Right on the border of Allentown and Bethlehem. Not far from the Marshall’s/Giant Shopping Center
- Cash or credit
- Parking Lot
*Tip: You can order this as takeout! Everything is packaged separately so the noodles won’t get soggy and you can still assemble everything once you get it home. I have found that when you get takeout, ordering a Large or a Small gives you the same amount of food. In the restaurant, there are notable differences in portion size.