The Spot: In Thuy Khue, which runs parallel along the southern bank of West Lake, this pho shopfront backs onto the Hanoi Film Studios and is just up from the Quan Thanh Temple. Next door to a cavernous pool hall where motorbike parking is provided for pho slurpers and pool sharks.
Space and Atmosphere: An awkward long space with pillars and punters to step around and over. In the morning rush hour, the pavement outside is scattered with kindergarten furniture to cater for the crowds, under whose feet is an ankle-deep build-up of discarded lime wedges and paper serviettes. The staff are frantic, taking orders, portioning, ladling, clearing and fielding odd requests from a crew of road-workers who have got the lid off a gully-trap full of black sludge out front. An appeal for a knife is met bluntly with "Our knives are for meat, not for scaping muck out of your dirty gully-trap." I'm thankful for that!
Shopfront Style: One in a long line of simple shop spaces with rusted heavy sliding gates, light sea green shutting between fading pink walls. Signage is sponsored by Pepsi.
Sticks, Condiments and Crockery: I choose two sticks from the three warped and unwanted ones on offer. It has been a busy morning. Condiments are all over the show, the system has broken down and I traipse through the mess underfoot to fetch my desired fixings of lime, fresh chili and pepper.
Serving Station: Pho Pa surveys the landscape from behind his post in the brief moments when he hasn't got knife to chopping block. He's the meat man. His right-hand woman portions and flash dunks the noodles. A third link in the chain scoops the soup into the bowls. An enormous vat of bones is on the flame too, no doubt in preparation for the next day's service.
Meat Generosity: In need of a protein hit this particular morning, I order an egg into the fray. The beef is some of the best I've eaten in the series. The chin (corned beef) melts in my mouth, the tai (rare beef) is fresh and tender. The egg is peppered and swallowed whole.
Order to Delivery Gap: An extra minute or two of egg poaching means I'm ravenous by the time it arrives.
Stock Factor: This is full-bodied beef stock. The extra thick noodle straps are unique and add an indefinable dimension to pho here. I like it a lot.
Cost: 14,000VND (USD87c, AUD$1.10), bumnut included.
Rank: Four of eleven.