Before I touch on the peculiarity of Vietnamese beef meatballs, a quick question: When you tell someone you’re in the mood for pho, do you pronounce it the correct way (“fuh”) or the way it looks (“foh”)?
Even though I know better, I often mumble out “foh”, mainly because the correct pronunciation is hardly universal knowledge, so saying it makes me feel like a pretentious tool, like that woman in the TV commercial: “Oh, and an endive salad. No, it’s absolutely pronounced ‘on-deev’.”
Anyway, on to Pho DC in Chinatown. Or as I refer to it, “Chinablock.” I’m not sure we can really call it a “town.” Love DC, but our Chinatown is weak, weak, weak.
Pho DC doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s surprisingly modern and sleek on the inside. Many people sit with their bowls of pho at the big bar in the front of the restaurant, and there are two dining rooms further back.
The first time I ate there, I ordered the grilled shrimp vermicelli, which was excellent. Perfectly grilled shrimp with nuoc cham and a spicy assortment of hot sauces.
A couple of weeks ago a few of us from work went during lunch. Started off with spring rolls.
And I decided to order pho this time around, going with beef meatballs.
I hesitate on how to describe the meatballs… I should preface my comments by pointing out that I’ve never had Vietnamese meatballs before. These could have been the finest example in all the land for all I know. But to say they weren’t what I was expecting is a massive understatement. Where I was anticipating biting into soft, pillowy orbs of ground beef, these had the consistency of a rubber ball. Tough and rubbery is really the only way I can describe them.
I gave it my best try, but just couldn’t come around to the texture. For the first time in a long while, I left food behind on my plate — the meatballs went uneaten.
If someone is an expert on Vietnamese cuisine, please illuminate — is the rubbery texture typical? I’m guessing my aversion has less to do with Pho DC and more with Vietnamese meatballs themselves. Did I miss out on a delicacy by leaving them untouched?
608 H St. NW