The only sure cure for a hangover? Pho shizzle.

Once upon a time, a great English teacher and weight training partner told me that Pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup, was the only sure cure for a hangover.  I think I was 16 or 17 at the time, so the words “hangover cure” didn’t quite hold the same meaning as they would a few short years later.  I can assure you now that there actually isn’t a sure cure for a hangover that doesn’t include a fourth-dimensional ingredient (and, believe me, I’ve tested extensively), but Pho’s as good a meal as any at re-hydrating a hung over body and helping it to sweat out the party demons.

It’s also a pretty good meal, even if you’re not completely bent.  Last night my girlfriend and I made the trek to Rocco’s Calamari, but were foiled by it either being a regular Monday-closer or being shut down for the Columbus Day holiday.  Either way, we weren’t sad to make the short walk on 60th St. over to 8th Avenue, Sunset Park’s Vietnamese main street (that’s Brooklyn, cats – take the N to 8th Av. and be amazed).  Since I had no data on the different restaurants, we chose the first one that looked intriguing, and that was the Nha Trang Palace.

Nha Trang Palace advertises “Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine,” but I’m really not in a position at this point to comment with regards to its authenticity.  (We were the only gringos in the restaurant, though, if that could be said to make a difference.)  I do know what we had tasted good – including fried spring rolls and barbecued beef and pork over rice noodles and vermicelli, respectively.  In addition to 100 different entrees, however (including three kinds of assemble-your-own Banh Mi), the restaurant offers 20 different kinds of Pho, and I had high hopes when I noticed most tables ordering food that arrived in bowls (though I discovered that the vermicelli dishes also come in bowl form).  In addition to our appetizer and two dishes, I ordered a bowl of Pho Tai, which includes only rare eye round rather than the possible tripe, tendons, brisket, etc.

According to http://www.recipesource.com/ethnic/asia/vietnamese/pho2.html, Pho’s base is more or less a kind of beef stock, with flavors like anise, cinnamon, mint, parsnips, ginger, the ubiquitous Nuoc Mam (fish sauce) and onions.  Added to it are rice noodles, more onions, cilantro, and different kinds of beef, depending on your order.  It also usually arrives with a side plate containing lemon or lime, bean sprouts, and basil.  Mix, let cool, and enjoy!  I usually like to eat some of the beef rare and let the rest cook for extra flavor.  Make sure you put in the basil early, though, if you like it – the more it cooks, the more flavor you get!

I’m sad to say that I found Nha Trang Palace’s Pho to be a bit bland – the soup tasted good, but it lacked the flavor bite that the best Pho I’ve tasted has had.  In fact, I’d say that this particular Pho was no better as a hangover cure than your average beef soup would be.  The search continues, probably with more research on www.chowhound.com (which, incidentally, is accepting donations to stay open, and it’s well worth supporting – it’s a great resource).  For a randomly chosen restaurant in a pinch (Rocco’s will have much to atone for), Nha Trang fit the bill.

Speaking of bill – Nha Trang Palace’s Pho Tai cost only $4.75, for a bowl that was filled with more beef and noodles than soup.  I’d imagine that the Pho Xe Lua, advertised as an extra big bowl at $5.95, would have provided more soup – at least I hope so, as it’s the soup that’s supposed to be the star of the show, not the noodles or beef, right?  Anyway, it would have been a filling meal on its own, quantity wise.

Apparently Pho is a breakfast food in Vietnam.  Go Phigure?

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2 Comments

Filed under NYC

2 responses to “The only sure cure for a hangover? Pho shizzle.

  1. I also believe Pho soup is a hang over medicine, but you must get the cure in Chinatown.

  2. Anonymous

    Try Cong Ly for good pho – hester and chrystie. Owner’s super nice, too.

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