I’ve mentioned before that it’s hard to find good vegetarian pho here in Brooklyn. That’s one of the reasons I ended up making my own. At one place I went to in Sunset Park many years ago they advertised pho chay (“chay” indicating vegetarian) on the menu, but when I asked they said the broth was not vegetarian. The ended up bringing me a bowl of hot water with noodles and vegetables in it, and it was not so good. But sometimes on a cold winter day I find myself craving it, so I stopped by Pho Viet Nam on Avenue U to see if they could satisfy my cravings.
When I asked about the broth they said they could give me a vegetarian one. What they brought was not a fully flavored pho broth (usually made with lots of spices and herbs) but was a huge step up from hot water. It tasted strongly of onions, and was mildly seasoned. After adding the provided bean sprouts and fresh lime juice I fortified it with chili sauce, soy sauce, and fermented bean paste, and it was pretty great. The noodles were thin with just a hint of chew, the fried tofu nice and firm, and the veggies were fresh and still crisp. I ate almost the entire bowl. I still like my vegan pho better, but Pho Viet Nam makes a pretty good one — just make sure to ask specifically for the vegetarian broth.
Pho Viet Nam — 1243 Avenue U