Our family used to go to To Chau for pho, but the lines were never worth the wait considering how many other good pho places we have in Honolulu. Pho Huong Lan in the Cultural Plaza, just a five minute walk from To Chau offers just as wonderful – if not better pho.
The longest we ever had to wait here was ten minutes and that was only on two occasions. It’s one of the “cleaner” chinatown places and service is efficent with a smile. Even when it’s completely full, the ambiance is always calm and relaxed. Run by a local family for many years, it’s comforting to see some consistency/history is a world that, on occasion, seems to change too fast for me.
There’s a menu, but everyone in our family sticks to the pho. Today I had the pho with slices of raw beef, beef balls and tendon (mmm, I love tendon!) They give a fair amount of veggies – ngo gai, bean sprouts, basil, peppers, lime and basil. The vibrantly colored vegetables are very fresh and inviting – they seem to beg, “eat me in all my fresh glory!”
I’m a firm believer that Huong Lan offers the clearest pho broth in town. Light and clean tasting, you can finish the whole bowl without that dehydrated, msg overload feeling. The soup is slightly beefy in flavor with a distinctive hint of anise. Just wonderful :) The tendon with addicting, perfectly balanced between crunchy and chewy, a pull that surrenders to a determined bite. I asked for the beef to be served raw on the side which allows one to see the quality of the meat. The generous serving of soft noodles are are waddled together at the bottom of the bowl, just waiting for you to unravel them into a spoonful completed by the savory, comforting broth.
Pho Huong Lan
Asia Mall – Chinatown Cultural Plaza
100 N. Beretania #129B
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817