Though I can’t say I’ll do it more than strictly necessary, the journey up to Andersonville was made thoroughly worth it by the bowl of pho I had at Pho 888. Like many great Asian spots, the space itself is forgettable and filled with odd surreal prints, silk plants and clippings from newspapers attesting to the quality of the soup. My friend ushered me in claiming that this was the “best pho I’ve ever put in my mouth” so I was reservedly hoping for a treat. We had to wait for about fifteen minutes in the steamy, fragrant interior, but at 8:30 pm on a Friday in a ten table restaurant it wasn’t a terrible inconvenience. Another party had called ahead to set aside a table, which struck me as a bit over the top for a casual noodle spot.
Anyway, we were seated and given a pretty extensive menu including several styles of noodle soup and other entrees. I went with a traditional pho with rare round-eye steak and well-done flank steak, served in the Southern Vietnamese style with lots of bean sprouts, fresh Thai basil, jalapeños and lime. The broth was clean but richly beef flavored, complex with star anise, cinnamon, onions and just a little fat. Who knows what else contributed to the delicious taste, but I would happily eat bowls of that broth every day. The thin rice noodles were the perfect texture, slightly chewy and resistant to the teeth instead of the mushy noodles common at lesser establishments. The beef was lean and of decent quality, particularly the tender flank steak. My friend had a grilled beef pho in which the meat had a lovely sweet smoky taste that infused the broth. I’ll order that if I ever get sick of the traditional pho…unlikely as that is. I ate the entire bowl (almost) and left feeling delightfully replete.
Pho 888 can be found at:
1137 W Argyle St (at Broadway St)
Chicago, IL 60640
I believe it is open until ten, at least on Fridays, and is BYOB. For those of you on CTA, it is literally down the block from the Argyle Red Line stop. Check it out!