Pho fever

The
spacious dining room has vaguely Asian decor. Paper lanterns hang over
each table and there’s a big bamboo plant in a vase on the front
counter. Modern adult rock was playing on the sound system, and a
smoothie machine buzzed periodically. Bottles of hoisin, the ubiquitous
Sriracha, hot chili, soy sauce and vinegar stand at the ready on each
table. Orders were taken quickly.

With
a slight chill in the autumn air, pho seemed like the natural choice at
a joint named after the Vietnamese national dish. I didn’t choose the
offbeat ingredients such as tripe, fatty flank or tendon; I just got a
simple brisket pho with rice noodles (large bowl $7.50).

There
are 17 combinations of meat on B&B’s pho list. My wife ordered the
grilled chicken and egg roll vermicelli bowl ($7.25). Within minutes of
ordering, my pho was brought steaming to the table.

Fresh
basil on the stem, lime wedges, raw bean sprouts and bright green
jalapeño slices come with the pho. I began methodically tearing these
garnishments apart and stirring them into the soup as we waited for my spouse’s order. It was about 10 minutes before the vermicelli came.

Although
the wait was mildly irritating, it did allow the basil and lime to
steep in the hot broth and make the dish even better. It was the best
pho I’d had in many moons. The broth was fragrant with star anise and
fennel seed. Plenty of beef and an enormous mound of snow-white noodles
made it a generous meal for the heartiest of appetites. Smaller bowls
are available for a couple of bucks less. Owner Bay Nguyen said that she
simmers her broths for 36 hours. Every Vietnamese family has a slightly
different take on pho; the Nguyens’ is particularly pleasing.

The
spring roll and egg roll combination platter ($4.25) is a pretty
quartet of pink shrimp in translucent rice paper wrapping and grilled
pork nestled alongside bright green lettuce. Peanut dipping sauce comes
alongside. Egg noodles with barbecued pork ($7.25) would be a good
choice for those apprehensive about trying Vietnamese food for the first
time. It’s similar to a Chinese or Thai stir-fry. A clear rice-wine
vinegar sauce with slivered carrot is served on the side along with
chopped lettuce and an egg roll.

The
grilled chicken rice platter ($6.75) is also gentle on less adventurous
palates. There are five vegetarian choices (all under $6) in the
vermicelli, rice and noodle sections of the menu. Specials include an
intriguing lemon grass noodle soup ($7.50) and shrimp and pork crepes
($5.95).

All B&B’s
non-pho dishes are served with cucumber, carrot and scallion garnishes
that are artfully carved and displayed on the plate.

B&B’s
provides the kind of good meal that would have been unheard of in this
neighborhood just a few years ago. We’re happy to have it here now.

Oklahoma
Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.

Doug Hill

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