Space and Atmosphere: Room enough for about 40 slurpers inside with the footpath accommodating a few more on the kiddie furniture. The pho crew is busily led by pho ma, all gussied up in her black evening wear, jewels, make-up caked on and a new 'do'. Similarly, the walls are spruced up with a range of brand new lunar calendars from this pho family's many associates.
Shopfront Style: It's an open house with garage door frontage, a makeshift rangehood hanging from the ceiling, sucking up the noxious emissions of the coal brazier upon which a range of stock pots are simmering away. Surprisingly, there is no signage, unusual in this town, where even the vendors who operate under trees or against walls have some kind of crude banner.
Sticks, Condiments and Crockery: Whoever whittled these chopsticks wasn't observing the industry standards - the fattest bamboo sticks in the capital, they could double as a good cane on the back of recalcitrant primary school student legs, if corporal punishment were still the norm!
Serving Station: A stainless steel bench near the front of the joint is loaded up with prepped pho ingredients, to which pho ma catwalks from the shop's rear when required to slap a bowl together. Lean corn beef (chin) is being cleavered finely under the staircase to the rear.
Meat Generosity: The above-mentioned chin is supplied in more than ample proportion and, like my pre-Tet pho stop, the quality of all meat at this establishment seems to be a priority.
Service to Delivery Gap: I ferreted about parking the bike next to the dishwashing girl for a few minutes and upon entry my mate was tucking into his and my was going cold on the table. Quick!
Stock Factor: Rich and verging on thick, as if a drop of it might have descended from the original Hanoi pho pot of a century or so ago, lovingly preserved in this nameless pho crypt by the cathedral.
Cost: 12,000VND (USD75c, AUD95c) per bowl, right on the standard.
Rank: Five of fourteen