Pho (beef noodles)

Trang Nguyen




My husband usually asks me to make this 1-2 times a month now. But before, we were on the hunt for the best pho restaurants in San Diego. If we had to narrow down the 2 best ones we've eaten at through the years, they would be Pho Hoa and Pho Cow Cali. Pho Hoa only serves pho and nothing else! Where Pho Cow Cali has a much larger menu! They are consistent and many would recommend Pho Ca Dao, but they are hit or miss sometimes. Even OB Noodle House's pho in OB is way too salty! But they make a good Korean short rib plate and chicken wings. Pho Point Loma & grill doesn't even hold up to its 4 star on Yelp! Sorry, it's pretty lame! And everywhere else were not memorable!

Pho Hoa: 4717 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115

Pho Cow Cali: 9170 Mira Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92126

So after I learned how to make this, we rarely ever go out anymore. One big pot feeds us for 2 weeks. We can freeze and defrost in fridge in the morning and heat up for dinner. So when you make this, be ready to feed a large family or save for a few meals during the week. My husband never gets tired of it! You can eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner!


Go to an Asian market with a meat counter and ask for:

8-10 pounds of beef bones (w/ marrow)
2 pounds of flank or brisket (optional)
1 pound of top round steak (looks like long log beef) request it to be sliced thin for pho (see assembly of pho bowl below)


10 whole cloves
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
8 whole star of anis
1/4 pound of freshly sliced ginger
3 tablespoon of whole coriander seeds
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 big roasted brown onion



Rock sugar or regular granulated sugar will work
Fish sauce

Pho bowl assembly (serves 3-4):
16 ounces fresh rice pho noodles (not dry) - 1/4 package to 1/3 package per bowl.
Thinly sliced brown onion
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onions

Fried sautéed minced garlic
Bean sprouts
Basil leaves
Saw leaves
Siracha chili
Hoisen sauce


The night before:

Fill a large stock pot (12-16 quart) with water and boil the bones until boiling and you see foam and gross layer float to the top. (Also add flank or brisket) Don't boil too long. I say 3-5 minutes after it boils. Then turn off heat, dump all bones and water out. Then wash all bones & meat until clean along with the stock pot. Then put all bones and fill stock pot to top. Leave room for aromatics.

Boil bones and all aromatic on high until it boils and then lower the fire to low and boil for at least 8 hours.

(If you're cooking Brisket or Flank - remove flank or brisket after 3-4 hours when tender. Let cool and refrigerate overnight. The slice next day for pho bowl assembly).

Next morning:

Take out all beef bones and aromatics and strain all herbs from broth along with skimming all the fat on the top of the broth and throw away. (This picture below is how it looks before you skim the fat odd the top of the pot). You have a huge pot of pho stock but you're still not done yet!


Add: salt to the taste. Then let cool and portion out for 4 meals. Put in fridge the rest once it cools down.

Take 4-5 quarts of your broth, put in a pot and add: 1 tablespoon of rock sugar (or sugar) and some fish sauce to taste. This is what you will use to make your meal today.

For assembling pho bowl:
Pho rice noodles (I rinse noodles in water and drain and microwave for 60-90 seconds until soft) I flip noodles 1/2 way so both sides cook evenly. Or you can use fresh already cooked noodles (see below)


Layer thinly sliced rare steaks over noodles. Add slice flank or brisket to bowl if you opted to add this. Top with fried garlic (optional - take minced garlic and fry in oil until brown and crispy), sliced brown onions, chopped cilantro and green onions. Ladle your broth over your bowl of noodles until you cover all the meats (see below).


Serve with toppings.


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