Miami's Best Pho

Categories: Review, Top List

hyvong_wisser.jpg
billwisserphoto.com
Phee-phi-pho-phum, we smell the best bowl of pho around.
Nothing ruins a meal like qualifying its authenticity. You know the drill: You slurp down a big bowl of aromatic pho, you really enjoy it, and then your brain kicks into gear. It didn't take you to the streets of Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. You have become the Regina George of food, someone who blights a lover by saying things like, "Yes, I love you, but..."

What makes one food more legitimate than another? Is it the cook's nationality, the waiter's birthplace, or the language printed on the menu?

In reality, none of those things really matters. The only factor that counts is taste.

So I recently set out to find Miami's best pho -- a noodle soup great because of its flavor and not its immigration status. A good pho hinges on the broth, a clear liquid produced by beef bones, fish sauce, and spices such as cinnamon and star anise. Served with rice noodles, the stock pairs with various cuts of beef and accompaniments such as Thai basil, chilies, and lime. My quest began in Miami Lakes and finished at a 30-year-old restaurant in Little Havana. Throughout this traffic- battered journey, there was only one rule:

No authenticity talk allowed.

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Terrence McCoy
Pho at Green Papaya
4. Green Papaya
At Green Papaya in Miami Lakes, emerald curtains and bamboo sticks cover the dining room's windows, shielding patrons from the outside world, which -- in this case -- is a seedy strip-mall parking lot. Pho goes by two names here: special beef soup or the less poetic number 8. It's a fine soup, built upon a tawny, rosy broth that's garnished with generous sprigs of cilantro. Thin rice noodles tangle around floating bits of red onion, scallions, and beef. Bean sprouts, lime, and mint ride alongside.

There are a few downers to this bowl, though. The mint arrives wilted. The meat boasts the slightly sour flavor of not-so-great beef. It's a nice meal for $8.95. But Green Papaya's best soup is not pho; it's bun bo Hue. This spicy, reddish soup, scented boldly with lemongrass and pork, employs thin, round noodles instead of the flat variety used in pho. Globs of orange oil glide across its fiery surface.

The restaurant's pho is good; the bun bo Hue ($8.95) rushes at you with flavor.

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Codik
Pho at Oak Tavern
3. Oak Tavern
Purists would never add sriracha and hoisin sauce to pho -- a balanced broth shouldn't need such additions. But at Oak Tavern, the Design District restaurant owned by David Bracha and helmed by Curtis Rhodes, the pho needs a bit of both.

Rhodes offers pho with papaya salad for $18 as a Thursday-night special. To make his broth, he roasts beef bones and white onions until their surfaces are charred and burnt. He shoves the mixture into a stock pot, throws in short ribs, and simmers it all for five hours.

The result is a chestnut-tinged broth, which he crowns with cilantro, scallions, and red and green chilies. The short ribs, tender and delicious, fall apart with the poke of a chopstick. The dish doesn't come with any of the usual accompaniments; it arrives only with the two sauces sloshed in tiny tin cups. "I try to keep it straightforward for our clientele," Rhodes says.

Oak Tavern's pho tastes best after a heavy hit of sriracha and hoisin. The restaurant's greatest strength is its succulent beef, but its broth lacks salt.

Location Info

Green Papaya

16893 NW 67th Ave., Hialeah, FL

Category: Restaurant

Oak Tavern

35 NE 40th St., Miami, FL

Category: Music

Pho Thang

9539 SW 160th St., Palmetto Bay, FL

Category: Restaurant

Hy Vong

3458 SW Eighth St., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant


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43 comments
smeejay
smeejay

Driving from the Beach up to Mt. Sinai North for my daily radiation treatments, I ate at Little Saigon every time. As my tongue started to loose it ability to taste food and the hair on the side of my head fall out and stop growing, I wanted Little Saigon's pho to be the last thing that tasted normal to me. How could something so simple be so addictive? Besides the pure logic of soup, salad, protein and starch all in a bowl of savory broth, the sheer simplicity combined with the subtle complexity of flavors had me under it's spell. Perhaps it's that a chef that speaks little to no english spends hours a day, every day, for years making it that is the secret. I don't know. I just know that as the balance of taste slowly, and thankfully, returned to my other senses Little Saigon remained a weekly outing for me. I find zen in every bowl.

smeejay
smeejay

Driving from the Beach up to Mt. Sinai North for my daily radiation treatments, I ate at Little Saigon every time. As my tongue started to loose it ability to taste food and the hair on the side of my head fall out and stop growing, I wanted Little Saigon's pho to be the last thing that tasted normal to me. How could something so simple be so addictive? Besides the pure logic of soup, salad, protein and starch all in a bowl of savory broth, the sheer simplicity combined with the subtle complexity of flavors had me under it's spell. Perhaps it's that a chef that speaks little to no english spends hours a day, every day, for years making it that is the secret. I don't know. I just know that as the balance of taste slowly, and thankfully, returned to my other senses Little Saigon remained a weekly outing for me. I find zen in every bowl.

Lam Nguyen
Lam Nguyen

The only good one on that list is Pho Thang. That is not even that good compared to most things outside of Florida. Vietnamese food, in general, in places like Denver, Atlanta, Westminster, San Francisco, etc is WAYYYY better by far. Also, I wonder how much pho the writer of this article has outside of Miami (which sucks in Asian food).

Kashena Wilusz
Kashena Wilusz

try what the pho in south beach. its on 7th and washington. its a little hole in the wall with such great character...and great food

beechhim
beechhim

"Purists would never add sriracha and hoisin sauce to pho" Get the pho outta here! I grew up on it. And if its not Spicy it ain't worth it.  This isn't Ramen. Its SE Asian cuisine. But, pretty good article, its a start.

Alfred Guerra
Alfred Guerra

You have to ask for green papaya's pho with everything (tripe and cartilage), otherwise it's just meat and noodles with no magic.

Micah VW
Micah VW

Emily, did you even bother to sample Little Saigon near Jackson North?! No need to question any authenticity there.

Eva Ryder
Eva Ryder

Mark Fitchett lets goooooooo

Gabriel Marin
Gabriel Marin

Surprised Miss Saigon Bistro did not make the list

Caleb Salazar
Caleb Salazar

PHO-SHO lets do it Oledeysis Chavez and Susie Salazar

Oledeysis Chavez
Oledeysis Chavez

Down. Totally down. Caleb and Susie, don't even think twice.

Susie Salazar
Susie Salazar

Caleb look what we were talking about the other day! We need to bring Oledeysis when we go!

Mark Fitchett
Mark Fitchett

Hy Vong. Didn't even need to read the article. Just saw it on my FB feed. That place is magical. And the lady that runs it is insanely sweet and nice.

Eva Ryder
Eva Ryder

Shawn Noy Jessica Halloran Cristian Andres pho partayyyy

Andrew Jon
Andrew Jon

Where can we get some Kuai Tiao?

Phuong Nguyen
Phuong Nguyen

Don't talk about authenticity? That's what makes a good pho what it is! And to have left out a place like 3 Chefs on Biscayne and 18th that has actual Vietnamese chefs is ludicrous.

Sam Wright
Sam Wright

^^fully disagree Donnie, musty and shady places have character :)

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

i was looking for a article on the best pho in miami, this is perfect but i noticed the reporter emily likes to describe strip malls as "shady" or "musty" ....stop doing that.

robertoj69
robertoj69

What? No Little Saigon in North Miami Beach?

Ashwin
Ashwin

I'm surprised they didn't mention Miss Saigon in South Beach.  The Pho is quite good and my favorite in the area!

Sam Wright
Sam Wright

Pho Thang is my favorite but Green Papaya is a close second

Ai-Quoc N. Heller
Ai-Quoc N. Heller

Don't bother with ANY pho in Miami, go to Tamarac...Pho Hoa on 441

Ricardo Puente
Ricardo Puente

Hy Vong should not be on this list since they don't even serve real Vietnamese food

Rod Deal
Rod Deal

If Keen Oner didn't write this article I don't know if I can take opinion seriously.

Aland Pirz
Aland Pirz

I know it's technically not in Dade but pho 78 was pretty good.

Goey246
Goey246

Been to Hy Vong & Green Papaya. Dinner at Hy Vong took 4 HOURS and we were the first ones waiting outside. The pho noodles were a bit too thick and we weren't big fans of the broth.
Green Papaya on the other hand is a much more decent wait time and is just Amazing!

Even though Hy Vong is closer to my house, I'd rather go to Green Papaya any day. By the time I drive to Miami Lakes, eat my pho and get back home, I would've probably still been waiting on my appetizer at Hy Vong.

Bruce Klepper
Bruce Klepper

check momi ramen as well in mary brickell village......omg

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