The Pilgrimage: Pho 75

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

We’re still here. The tradition is still going. It’s just been a while since my last review, but I felt it was time for me to catch back up over Thanksgiving break. What other way to get back into the groove of things than to review another defining aspect of the tradition itself, the Pilgrimage.

Just as Muslims take their pilgrimage once a lifetime to Mecca, so should every pho lover travel to the Washington, D.C. area, at least once in their lifetime, to experience the greatness that is Pho 75. As a matter of fact, so incredible is Pho 75, that I have already been there twice in the span of one year. Never mind that it’s only half an hour away from where my place. I’d visit if it were half a day from where I live. It is truly that good.

Pho 75 is situated in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the urban suburb (yes, this is a thing now) that is Rosslyn, VA. As a hub for the yuppie population of Northern Virginia, it’s not totally unexpected that the owners of the restaurant decided to settle down there. Surrounded by burger joints, seafood restaurants, and lots of creameries, the whole place is just food heaven.

Rosslyn Metro Station. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

Rosslyn Metro Station. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

The last time I went, it was for a reunion. As Pho Saturday apostles back in C-Ville, some of us had graduated and moved to all different places in the country to begin real life. That weekend though, the few of us, with some new recruits, got back together to experience the tradition once more. Laughing and having a good time the whole way there, we arrived off the metro station in high spirits, and very hungry.
When we opened the front doors to Pho 75, we saw that the restaurant was packed and the line was almost out the door. While we had a decent wait our first time here, we couldn’t help but be surprised. No doubt, Pho 75 was the largest pho joint I’ve ever been to, and to see every single chair at every single table being occupied by pho-lovers alike was just amazing. Sooner than we expected, our waiter beckoned us over to a long table near the center of the room.

Pho 75's interior during its off hours.

Pho 75’s interior during its off hours.

The menus he handed us were just a single-sided large piece of some laminated material. On it, were a few appetizers, a few desserts, and the rest of it, dedicated to pho. On it, we were reminded that we had the option to custom add topping cups with additional meat, or other garnishes such as vinegar-soaked onions. Hungry as we all were, every one of us got another topping cup of meat (I think I ordered a cup of fatty-brisket), and about half of us each, a dessert (which ranged from a delicious corn pudding to a milk & jello mixture, also excellent).
In just a few minutes (which seemed like an eternity), the pho arrived. Giant bowls of steaming hot, aromatic goodness. Not only were the default portions hugely generous, but each topping cup of meat was also enormous. These “cups” were actually the small rice bowls you get at Asian sit-down restaurants, filled with your selection of meat and broth. For those of us who ordered the onion toppings, it was the same-sized bowl but filled to the brim with crunchy, flavorful onion slices. Combined, the pho and the topping cups ran a little bit above $10, but no doubt, it looked to be the most filling pho I’ve ever had.

The real deal.

The real deal.

Not only were the noodles and meat cooked to perfection, but the broth was also perfect. Meaty, flavorful, and not too oily, it would have been perfect by itself without condiments. The available assortment of garnishes and everything else (the typical) only made the pho better. I can say nothing bad about the food. Between the slurping of our noodles and our joyous laughter, I imagine that everyone else there was equally pleased with the experience.

Delicious.

Delicious.

That’s not to say the service and décor wasn’t without its flaws. Generally quick, but not necessarily pleasant service dampened the experience somewhat, and the dirty bathrooms made the after-meal wash-up a little distasteful. Overall though, the quality of the food there more than made up for the flaws. Also, if I remember correctly, pho 75 also only accepts cash, but this is quite typical of pho restaurants nowadays so no surprises there.

I also liked the set-up of the restaurant. If you came in by yourself, you were seated at a large table with a bunch of other pho-loving strangers. A great way to get out, and meet new people over a bowl of piping hot noodle soup! What’s not to love about that?
Ultimately, pho 75 is worthy of a trip if you’re ever around the D.C. area. Certainly, it’s worth a once-a-year trip if you live as close to it as I do. I actually plan on going back again this Saturday … and I’m already excited!

Enjoy Turkey day everyone!

 

Final Rating: 9/10

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