The Spot: In narrow Tran Quoc Toan Street, near the corner of Quang Trung, a one-wayer leading into Hanoi's old quarter, there are a series of snack eateries which sell all kinds of oily junk food in the afternoons and evenings. One of them does pho in the mornings, pho binh dan (noodles at a reasonable price) to be precise, according to the chirpy proprietor. Across the street, the deafening acoustics of a concrete primary school playground at recess provided 'ambience' to eat by.
Space and Atmosphere: Upon my arrival, this friendly grotbox was being graced by the presence of seven twenty-something women attired in stunning pink ao dai, the Vietnamese national dress, an odd juxtaposition to say the least. Discarded napkins and lime wedges on the floor, with the ethereal tails of the ao dai trailing through them. The walls are papered with soft drink ads, David Beckham's dial no doubt boosting Pepsi sales. Enough seating for a football team with substitutes on the pavement.
Shopfront Style: Not enticing but typical of the small pho operation, with the makeshift timber serving station and the stock pots all part of the front of house action. At the tail end of morning service, the debris is building up for the one clean up of the day!
Sticks, Condiments and Crockery: This joint observes all of the ostensible pho by-laws: bamboo sticks, Chinese floral bowls and condiment vessels in need of a good wipe with a clean cloth!
Serving Station: Surfaced with stainless steel, smeared and littered with rush hour refuse. The public face is tattered with yet more soft drink plug: Splash, a sickly orange drop, and Joy, happy distilled water.
Meat Generosity: The lovely ultra thin slices of chin somehow reminded me of the cured meats of Europe, like pastrami and pancetta. The texture and grain of the meat was tighter or something. Plenty of it, too.
Order to Delivery Gap: One local man who walked in after me was fed first. Normally that would shit me. But he was a policeman. I understand the pecking order in Hanoi.
Stock Factor: Perfect colour and clarity, not a fleck of scum evident. A touch on the salty side.
Cost: I'm in bargain basement territory here, with 11,000VND (USD70c, AUD90c) including an egg yolk, which is a common addition to Hanoi pho.
Rank: Eight of ten. Numero uno for grot, though.