The Spot: 172 Ton Duc Thang St. Not exactly in the town centre, it's three minutes down from the Temple Of Literature on a hot dusty main thoroughfare out of town where, if a bus doesn't get you, the pollution will. I'd risk it for this pho, though.
Shopfront Style: Glaring morning sun on bright yellow tarp. Sunglasses essential. Consider a gas mask, too.
Space and Atmosphere: Confusion reigns on this front. There's opposition pho ga serving stations in this laneway. The seating for the one on the right is directly behind the one on the left. The seating for the one on the left is down the alley in a neighbour's front room. Which business one patronises appears to depend upon which boy covets and parks one's motorbike. It's a circus!
Sticks, Condiments and Crockery: Standard sticks of bamboo shoved in the plastic utility stand with dunny paper serviettes and toothpicks. Fresh wedges, topped up chili sauce and snipped fresh chili all at the ready, nothing wanting.
Serving Station: The birds are the stars here, pots of stock and portioning, ladling action out of the picture. Chooks in various stages of dismemberment are scattered about, their internals and aborted progeny proudly displayed in their own show trays, like museum installations of found art.
Meat Generosity: These chickens must be of the happy, free-range ilk for their flesh, in thicker than usual pieces, is luscious, tender, non-stringy plus all other positive adjectives pertaining to chicken meat. The best bird meat in the capital so far. It's a generous portion but it's so good that there should be more. Get me a whole bird in my soup!
Order to Delivery Gap: Remembering that 10 minutes in a pho shack feels like an hour of normal time, this 12 minute wait was worth it.
Stock Factor: As clear as a mountain spring. How can something that looks like water have so much of a flavour burst? Normally I don't slurp the last mouthful from the bowl!
Cost: A 'pricey' 16,000VND (USD99c, AUD$1.30) but hang the expense.
Rank: One of