Within a couple of days after we met our new neighbors, they brought over bags of Vietnamese sandwiches, called Banh Mi, savory pastries (petit chaud) and a few Banh Bao or steamed buns. We, of course, were happy to provide beverages, so we sat in the back yard and talked food, drank beer, and made plans to go to their favorite Vietnamese spots, Pho Oregon, on NE 82nd across from Madison High School, and Portland's best kept banh mi hideout, Lanvin, cleverly hidden on the back side of the building.
As is usual with the best-laid plans, it took awhile for us to actually get there. When he was growing up, C's family had driven in from Camas every Sunday after church to have their lunch at Pho Oregon along with the Vietnamese families who'd flock there for sustenance after the long church service. They'd order their beef noodle soup with the meat on the side, then add it to the boiling hot broth to cook. A sprinkle of lime juice, some ngo gai (eryngium foetidum or saw-leaf herb), maybe some hot chili sauce or plum sauce, and you were good to go.
From our experience, the pho is some of the best we've had in Portland. The deep, flavorful broth takes all day to make and can include star anise, cinnamon, charred ginger and cloves and is right up there with Airborne as our favorite cure for a cold. Pho Oregon also has lots of other dishes that we're anxious to try, including grilled chicken on noodles (left). There are also several sides you can add to flavor your broth or noodles, including green onions in what tastes like chicken fat infused with star anise, and sweet onions marinated in a very light rice vinegar (right).
At $4.50 for a huge (serving size) bowl of soup with noodles, we say you can't possibly go wrong. Add egg rolls or salad rolls and a Vietnamese-style iced coffee and you're still well under $10 per person, and you'll come out a happy, very well-fed camper.
Details: Pho Oregon, 2518 NE Sandy Blvd. Phone 503-262-8816.