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Pho Orchid and Developing Palates

My son has a good palate. He developed it a bit earlier than I did, I think. I remember taking him to Kanno, the best sushi bar in town, when he was a kid.

He started off with crab stick and California rolls, but over the years he grew to appreciate the best stuff: fresh scallop, aji mackerel and fat belly tuna, for example. Some weeks ago when he was in town, we went with my father to Addis Nola, about which I’ve written previously.

But the boy loves pho, as all right-thinking people do, and so when he was in this past weekend, he requested food from Pho Orchid, which has a location on Airline Drive not far from my parents’ house. My father suggested that we order food and eat it while watching the LSU game.

I don’t know if I’ve had food from Pho Orchid, but I’m pretty sure I’d never had it from their “express” location that was formerly a Popeye’s. I stopped into the place on the way to my parents to pick up a menu and to check it out. I have standards where pho is concerned and I wanted to make sure the place was up to snuff.

Mainly, I wanted to know whether they had tripe, because I like tripe in my pho. They do.

The broth is good, maybe not quite as fatty as I like but I suspect most people would prefer this style. The brisket, however, did have enough fat and the eye of round was tender and obviously fresh. The tripe was tripe, which is to say that it had a chewy texture that I think is pretty important to a good bowl of pho.

The meatballs were good, too, though it’s hard to judge Vietnamese meatballs in a bowl of pho, where you’re tasting the broth, herbs, lime, chilis and various other things every time you take a bite/slurp. I like the snap you get when you bite into a Vietnamese meatball, but as mentioned above, I like a little texture in my food.

My son ate pho, spring rolls and grilled pork bao. He was generous enough to let me taste one of the latter, and it was really good, too. My father ate some grilled pork spring rolls and my mother, after asking whether she could get something that wasn’t too spicy, opted for the pho with eye of round. Pho tai, it’s called, and she seemed to like it. So did the boy.

I was pleasantly surprised by Pho Orchid. It made me want to start making pho of my own again, and I’m not often motivated by meals in that way.

I am also reminded, again, that my son is an adult and is developing in ways that I could only have hoped for as a younger man. His palate, for sure, but that’s the least of it. I love all my kids but he’s the one with whom I can have a serious conversation and he’s the one who wants to eat the same weird stuff I want to eat.

Which is nice.


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