Budget Beat

Lunch Under $10 at Pho Thanh

It's not a side dish. It's not a soup dish. It's pho -- a main course, a noodle dish. In Vietnam, it's the people's food. Street food. And at Pho Thanh, it's delicious. It should be -- it's the house specialty.

Think all bowls of pho are the same? Think again. What makes the pho at this west Phoenix spot a must-have when it comes to comfort food on the cheap?

For starters, it comes in a bowl you could wash your face in -- a tempting proposition given its aroma.

There are several variations of pho at Pho Thanh including chicken, seafood, or cuts of beef. We opted for the pho filet dac biet.It arrived packed with sliced beef, meatballs, soft tendon, beef brisket, and small bits of tripe added to tender rice noodles and a rich beef broth. The first spoonful made us appreciate the fact that only a broth that's been simmering marrow-rich beef bones over low heat for hours could taste that intense. Just salty enough, with layers of flavor brought out by the various herbs and spices.

Think it can't get any better? Think again. The fun part of pho is being able to customize it with cilantro, sawtooth herb, jalapeños, bean sprouts, lime, and basil from the accompanying plate. Like it spicy? A squirt of sriracha sauce should do it.

The result is a tasty, unique, and textural treat for around five bucks. And you'll get enough pho at Pho Thanh to fill-up for the day or take the remainder to-go for a nighttime nosh.

Now that's comforting.

Pho Thanh
1702 West Camelback Road

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld