Chef’s Secret Pho Bo Is A Decent Noodle Bowl
After noticing Chef’s Secret (formerly known as Thai Nam on 45th btw. Lex+3rd) was offering pho bo last week, I went back to try the Vietnamese beef and rice noodle soup to relieve my curiosity. They describe their new offering as “hearty beef broth scented with cloves and anise. Served with thin rice noodle. Choice of beef/chicken/seafood.” All for $9.50! OK, not the best deal in Midtown, but I figured it’s worth a try since they’ve pretty much plastered the NEW pho bo flyers all over their window, their sidewalk sign, and walls inside…
Like Zach, I’m usually a bit skeptical of places that try to make too many things and offer too many cuisines. Also, when I asked the counter lady when they introduced the “new” dish, she seemed confused and told me that they’ve had it for about a year. So either I’ve just missed their NEW PHO BO signs in the last twelve months or they are trying to trick customers inside. Nevertheless, I was there and ordered.
To start, you get a quart brimming with steaming hot rice noodle soup topped with thin-sliced beef. You also have a styrofoam container of beansprouts, hot sauce (Sriracha and hoisin sauce blend), a lemon wedge, and some green leaves that you have to throw into the soup to make it pho-like.
It’s not the best bowl of pho I’ve ever had, but it’s not the worst either (that distinction might go to Chicken House.) They did not skimp on the noodles, but they get soft pretty quick (no “al dente” here.) I never thought you’d need bean sprouts until I had Chef’s Secret pho. If you’re down with bean sprouts, you’ll appreciate the crunch it gives to the soft noodles. I usually avoid them, but they’re the only thing that gives this soup any texture.
The sliced beef was tender, but did not have much flavor. That’s where the hot sauce comes in, which I happily poured on – turning the broth a pale shade of pink.
If you work within a 2-3 block radius of Chef’s Secret and are craving hot noodle soup on a cold/rainy day, try this pho. Also, as long as you let it stand and cool for ten minutes, you won’t burn every part of your mouth like I did.
Chef’s Secret (formerly known as Thai Nam), 137 E 45th St (btw. 3rd+Lex), 212 867-8222