One Saigon pho stall weighs the beef for each serving on a scale; no one gets less or more.
First timers at “Pho Bo Ong Nam” (Mr. Nam’s Beef Pho) are sometimes curious about a small red scale on the kitchen table.
Their curiosity is replaced by surprise when they place an order.
Nam, the restaurant owner, uses tongs to place beef slices or meatballs on the scale.
This way, everyone gets equal servings, he explained.
Pho is Vietnamese rice noodles served with beef or chicken slices, in broth made from simmered bone stock and herbs
Located on Tran Quoc Thao Street in District 3, the restaurant has been running for nearly 10 years, and has a loyal following, both for the owner’s sense of fairness and the quality of the dish.
“We only use veal from Cu Chi,” stated Nam.
“I’m now old so my vision is quite poor. When the restaurant gets crowded, I would estimate the meat by instinct, and some servings would end up bigger than others. From then on I began using this scale to weigh the meat,” said Nam.
Nam, who is more than 60 years old, buys the ingredients, washes the vegetables and slices the beef. The ingredients are neatly arranged on the kitchen table for customers to choose. Several types of beef pho are served here: half-cooked beef, flank beef, brisket and so on.
“I am always fair. Even for regular customers, I give them the same amount of meat,” Nam said, laughing as he turned to pour the broth into several bowls. The appetizing aroma permeates the old house where the eatery is located.
The clear, savory broth has been praised by many customers who said it is cooked exactly in the northern style. Meanwhile, poached bean sprouts and other greens are served together with the pho, reflecting the southern style.
Wiping sweat from his face, college student Tien Hung said he loves the pho here. “The owner is a really good cook. The beef is soft and aromatic. I started eating here two years ago and have become addicted.”
Noodle soup romance
For District 7 resident Mi, 28, resident this place is extra special.
This is where she first met her husband. “That noon, the restaurant was so crowded that we had to share a table. Since our workplaces were near, we met again several times. Even when the place was not crowded, we began to sit together. Long after, he confessed his love for me, and our love grew and we got married.”
The narrow entrance can only accommodate one dining table, but the restaurant space expands on the inside. There is no window inside so this eatery can get a bit stuffy. There is no name-board, just an old canvas sheet on which “Pho Bo Ong Nam” has been printed in large sized letters.
However, the restaurant’s popularity needs no further advertisement than the taste of its food and the owner’s obvious sense of fairness.