Variety's not the spice at Pho 555 on Federal
Not everyone is looking for the most intense and masterful bowl of pho. Not everyone craves varied or unusual ingredients. Pho 555 was busy even on an otherwise slow night of the week and even at an hour early enough to warrant early-bird status. Some folks return to the same spot week after week because it's comfortable, close and familiar. But my mind wanders up the street because the steam from the soup has not threaded its tendrils into my mind and because the menu doesn't read like a guidebook to a vast network of tropical villages. I'm already thinking of mahogany-lacquered duck, French-Vietnamese fusion sandwiches bursting with vivid and powerful flavors, and those forbidden steamer baskets filled with mysterious dumplings and clenched chicken feet.
Mark Antonation Seafood pho with shrimp and fish balls.
Maybe it's not fair to compare restaurants so directly. Maybe each restaurant should stand on its own merits. But when you look out the restaurant window while you're eating and can see other pho shop signs beckoning you with graphics depicting wisps of steam escaping brimming bowls, it's hard not to. And I remember the first time I ate pho and wondered what the big deal was, only to try it a few weeks later in another location and wonder why I had missed out for so long.
Each bowl of pho does stand on its own merits, but memory interjects its bias and whispers, "Ah, but if only..."
Mark Antonation Pho 555.
For more from our culinary trip down Federal, visit out A Federal Case archive.