Sunday, December 9, 2007

Fantastic Phonatic

Inspired by The Amateur Gourmet's recent post, My First Pho,, I thought that the Dinnerman should be afforded a similar opportunity.
What better scenario for a steaming bowl of aromatic goodness than a chilly New England Saturday afternoon? Actually, it felt downright balmy here yesterday in relation to our recent deep freeze. The sun was shining, the snow was melting...if it weren't for a little wind I'd have thought we were in the tropics.
So, we donned our hooded "Nanook of the North" coats and set off on foot up to the bustle College Hill. Our destination? Phonatic ( Angell Street. The Dinnerman, ever the skeptic, kept asking me if I knew where I was going and if I was sure he would like it. Would it fill him up? How could it fill him up if it only cost $7.50? In his usual way he doubted me. But in my usual way I stood my ground, and we were both better for it.

I'd heard mixed reviews about this Vietnamese restaurant, but aside from the absence of vodka to pour into the sparkling limeade, the Dinnerman and I declared it a fault-free and inexpensive outing - we'll be back, soon.

We started with a small order of the beef wrapped in pepper leaves - 5 skewered cyliders of marinated chopped beef wrapped in the leaves of the aromatic pepper leaf (piper sarmentosum (, which the Vietnamese call "bo la lot" and is related to the betel leaf), served atop shredded lettuce and scallions with a vinegary sauce. I thought this was delicious - it had a very fresh flavor, reminiscent of citrus and cilantro. Missing, however, were the advertised rice paper wrappers for rolling.

Onto the main event: we each set off in the pursuit of pho totality (photality?) with the Pho Phonatic. This was a giant bowl of beef noodle soup filled with thinly sliced rare beef eye round (cooked by the heat of the broth), well-done brisket, flank, tendon, tripe, and beef meatballs. The broth was so rich and delicious; it had been simmering for a very long time. Also floating in the broth were a mound of rice noodles, slivers of white onions, and chopped scallions. Served alongside was a plate of fresh bean sprouts, sliced jalapenos, lime wedges, and basil. You stir up the entire mess, watching the raw or rare eye round cook, squirt in some Sriracha hot sauce, sprinkle with bean sprouts, jalapenos and basil, and squirt in the lime juice. Now you are ready to eat!
I tried to inform the Dinnerman of what I know to be proper pho technique: chopsticks in dominant hand (right for us), spoon in the other hand (that would be left), lift noodle with chopsticks, deposit into spoon, slurp. I also spoon broth into my mouth with my right hand, and pick meat up with chopsticks with my right hand. But at the end of the day, you do whatever you can to get the pho into your mouth. You proceed in your own phashion to make the pho your own.
And yes, it's always good to slurp.

I brought home half of my "solids". All the Dinnerman was left with was broth. But what broth it was! This morning, after a night in the fridge, it was jiggling. That's some serious stock, people. A lot of collagen was infused. Exquisite.

There is so much more to the menu that we want to sample...but how can a person go to Phonatic and not order pho?

165 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02906
(401) 454-1699

Can someone please help me! How do I post links without the entire address having to show up in the text? I thought I knew how to do it, but it hasn't been working for!


Anonymous said...

People have been raving about Pho Paradise on Providence's south side and I've been meaning to try that too.

For making the links, there might be a little link button in blogger, but if you're writing html here are some tips.

Steph said...

Thanks for the tips.
I've heard a lot about Pho Paradise as well. It's next on my list!

I've tried to use the little link button to no avail...hmmmm.
I will keep trying! In the mean time my links will look like, well, web addresses.