OBAO’s Pho Bo Is Michelin Recommended For Good Reason

I was surprised and kind of disappointed the other day when I went to OBAO intending to order their delicious pad see iew with kalbi, only to find that their menu had changed from the last time I was there. If I had to guess, I’d say my last trip was about six months ago, so I’m unsure when the updated menu made its appearance, but the beef pad see iew on the new menu no longer has any mention of the short rib. Major bummer. But, the good news for Midtown Lunch’ers is that there are still plenty of items $10 and under on the lunch specials menu, and if you dine-in, you get a free, chef-selected starter with your entree.

Anyway, while selecting a new dish, I noticed the four Michelin recommended items (fancy!), one of which was the beef salad Anna enjoyed so much in December. I ordered the recommended Pho Bo.

Generally speaking, OBAO’s pho doesn’t have a good reputation on this blog. Most recently, Andrea panned hers from their downtown location. And, who can forget the controversy Zach uncovered when the Midtown store first opened in 2009.

I, on the other hand, had a surprisingly dynamite Pho Bo, which includes both thinly sliced rare beef and braised brisket, as well as rice noodles, in a ginger anise beef broth. First of all, it’s important to eat this dish at OBAO, because I can’t imagine the rare beef traveling well for takeout/delivery. While I do not consider myself a Pho connoisseur, I’ve definitely had a bowl or two lately, and this delicate ginger anise beef broth was unlike any other pho I’ve had. I also enjoyed the two preparations of beef very much, and there was plenty of each. The whole thing was simply delicious. The dish cost is only $8 at lunchtime, and if you’re craving something slightly left of traditional and have the time to eat at the restaurant, OBAO’s Pho Bo could be the soul-warming meal for which you’re searching.

Obao, 222 E. 53rd St. (btw. 3+2nd), (212) 308-5588


  • Best pho in midtown, for sure, and probably in manhattan outside of Chinatown. Also, I’ve gotten it delivered plenty of times – the beef arrives well cooked but still tender. My only gripe is there should be more beef for the price. But hey, this is midtown.

    Also, I like their poached egg, which for $2 comes in a small scallion and onion laced soup. It’s prepared rare (runny yolk, soft white), and goes nicely with lots of their dishes.

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    I agree the PHO is awesome. The broth is actually rich and flavorful and that for me sets it apart from the Chinatown Pho that is usually watered down stock.

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    Man, we’re getting the shaft in the FiDi! Even if you eat your pho in, they still give it to you in takeout containers as the only seating option is a counter along the window. And it’s $1 more expensive.

  • seriously? the one in fidi. stinks and the broth is inedible. How can this be OBao?

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