I’m going to get some haters because I said Le’s Phở’s phở is better than Phở Xe Tank’s phở AKA Tank Restaurant. (Phở = pronounced FUH, not FOE; I pronounced phở as FOE for many years and was enlightened of the FUH pronunciation a few years ago) At one point, Tank had some decent phở going on. In 2011? No. If I want phở, I head to Le’s Phở. I am no expert in the ways of phở, but their soup base is better than Tank’s. Like ramen, if the broth sucks, it throws off the entire soup. I am not alone in this mentality of the broth. On a tangent, Tank’s menu is large and I’m sure they have better dishes than their phở.
At one point in my phở journey, I polled a few Vietnamese/non-Vietnamese friends about where they go for phở. I got mixed results.
- Some Vietnamese folks said, “No where. I go home, it’s way better. Argyle sucks.”
- Many non-Vietnamese people think of Tank when they think of Arygle/phở.
- One person stated, “Tank’s phở sucks. It’s overrated and I don’t even know why people go there.”
- Lastly, a mix of people gave recommendations for random Vietnamese restaurants on Argyle and rated them from “decent” to “not bad.”
Image from Yelp
From what I’ve experienced, heard, and gathered, Le’s Phở used to be called Phở Hòa (or maybe it was Phở Hòa = Different Name = Present day Le’s Phở; ownership changed so I might’ve lost track). I was also misguided in my pronunciation and referred to them as FOE-AH HOE-AH. Back in the day, Phở Hòa had great business. Newspaper write ups, packed tables, great phở, etc. My folks and I used to eat at Phở Hòa on Sundays for brunch and it was always busy. I don’t know the story, but Phở Hòa eventually went downhill. Probably changes in ownership occurred and the phở quality went down along with the crowds of people.
And now, I’m back at the same place with a different name and broth attitude, Le’s Phở. Let’s see what we got.
When you order phở, a plate of garnishes will appear on your table before your phở comes out. The staff typically adjusts the amount of garnishes on your plate with the phở orders. On this plate we have chili peppers, lime wedges, basil, and bean sprouts. I know we’ve received culantro in the past, so maybe not at this particular visit. On the plate, you’ll also receive small bowls. With these bowls, you can make your own combination of sauces you may want to dip into. I’m quite partial to a 75% hoisin-25% sriracha sauce combo on mine, but you can do mix up whatever you like. Or you can just add the sauce directly into your soup.
BE got a large seafood phở and deemed it satisfying. You get an assortment of seafood in your soup i.e. fish cake, shrimp, etc. Admittedly, it’s not a lot of seafood, but hey, seafood is pricey.
Diner A ordered Le’s Special Phở in size large, which includes all the random cuts of meat on the menu i.e. brisket, tendon, flank, tripe, meatball, etc., which I believe all of those are included (give or take, can’t list them all). If you’re unsure about the meat in phở, I find ordering the special phở is a great (or somewhat risky) way of gauging what cuts of meat you do and do not like. Sometimes, restaurants will list pictures of the cuts of meat so you can gauge for yourself. At Le’s Phở, they have photos of these cuts in their menus. By the way, diner A deemed their phở as great.
I ordered a tendon, brisket and flank phở. I didn’t feel like chew-fighting with the tripe found in the special phở and wanted to concentrate on what I really like.
TENDON! I love tendon. This ‘fatty looking’ thing is delicious. It’s soft and jelly-like in mouth feel while absorbing the broth flavors. Tendon is made up of collagen fibres which are naturally occurring proteins in animals (or so says Wiki). Tendon is initially tough, but after many hours of simmering, it can be broken down like a roast. I don’t know any benefits of eating tendon, but Chinese people have long thought that eating tendon helps to promote stronger bones.
A very satisfying bowl indeed. I really enjoyed the broth that day and look forward to a return visit. I recommend giving phở a shot. Once you find what you like, you’ll be hooked! 🙂
4925 N Broadway St, Suite # G (Inside the parking lot + mall)
Chicago, IL 60640-3052