It’s been another amazing (and delectable) year for finding seemingly obscure restaurants. My catalog of delicious dining is growing by the week.
And I’m not done yet. Here’s another to add to the list: Pho Nam in Haltom City, a family-run restaurant that specializes in one thing: beef pho. Well, mostly one thing.
Before I get to the pho, let me address the rest of the menu of appetizers, beef stew ($6.55) and vermicelli bowls ($6.55). (The whole menu is a very manageable and refined three pages.)
Normally, the standard from place to place is fairly even when it comes to things like egg rolls. But at Pho Nam, the fried rolls ($2.55) have a certain handmade quality to them, crispy and flaky. Each is packed with carrots, pork, shrimp, mushrooms and a variety of spices.
Vermicelli bowls, something I’m always reluctant to order because of their ingredient imbalance — more noodles than meat — are not an issue at Pho Nam. In the grilled beef vermicelli bowl, plenty of thinly sliced beef wrapped around green onions, a unique preparation, set the vermicelli record straight: There is such a thing as a vermicelli bowl with a lot of meat. (Also available with grilled pork or shrimp.)
You can get the same meats on rice, too.
The beef stew, the only dish of its kind at Pho Nam, is to die for. Its amber-colored broth has the potent, sweet scent and flavor of cinnamon, along with cilantro, to round out a bold taste. The stew includes moan-worthy tender chunks of beef that fall apart in your mouth.
The guys at Pho Nam, who have been perfecting their pho craft for 21 years, were nice enough to divide pho ($5.65–$6.35) into three “skill levels” on the menu: first timers, pho fans and longtime pho fans.
Each is basically the same: pho with beef, but each level adds more ingredients and therefore more flavor than the preceding tier.
For example, a pho rookie could start with steak or lean brisket pho — soup with just one type of beef. Pho Nam calls these people “will-be pho fans.”
At the medium tier, your pho includes two meats. This is “specialized” pho.
And in the top tier, bowls can have up to five meats. According to the menu, it’s for those who want the “ultimate tastes of everything.”
Meats available are lean brisket, fatty brisket, steak, flank steak, crunchy skirt flank, tendon, tripe and beef balls ($1.25 extra). I recommend the steak-lean brisket-fatty brisket-tendon-tripe pho bowl from the pro section.
Each soup is nourishing, fresh, aromatic, and made even livelier with a splash of lime and a handful of basil. The broth is balanced and flavorful — no Sriracha or salt needed.
There is also a chicken pho, a seafood pho and pho made without meat (preposterous), if you’re so inclined.
There’s one last side to the menu that is made up mostly of cold drinks like Thai iced tea ($2.75), salty lemonade ($1.95) and fresh coconut juice ($2.75). I didn’t get to try any on my visit, since I was clearly preoccupied with flaky egg rolls, cinnamon stew, and beefy pho. What can I say, I’m a longtime pho fan.