One of our best friends, Krosin, sent us an email a couple years ago from Hanoi explaining the most magical pho experience of his life at 49 Bat Dan. Obviously this was high on our priority list and we later found out Bourdain also went here on his show. I guarantee you, Krosin's poetic description and love for this place way outshines Bourdain's. I copied and pasted Krosin's email to the blog because there is no way we could describe it any better. Hope thats ok Krosin - I'll pay you back in Zin.
"49 Bat Dan street is reputed to have the best Pho in all of Hanoi. The capital of Pho, and by extension, the best in the world. A series of 5 wooden benches with long tables and plastic stools. On the tables are a bowl of cut red chili's, fish sauce, and hot sauce. You can get it with rare beef, cooked cut Brisket, or both. It is $1.50. There is a crowd around the front stall with about 10 people waving bills frantically, like a Manhattan bar at last call. They take the bowl with the noodles, take the rare beef and dip it into the enormous bubbling iron cauldron for about 6 seconds just so its flash cooked, add a sprinkle of some herb, add a handful of cut spring onions of three differnt types, then the delicious broth which is brown, but not salty, light, perfect, unheralded in refreshing flavor that only a constant boiling vat with occasionally dipped beef can provide. There are no cilantro or sprout addititves. You don't squeeze in lime. You don't need to, because it is all so perfect. They do not skimp on the beef. You can add a flash cooked raw egg if you want."
"No one talks. A resonance of slurping and ticking chopsticks surrounds you creating a sort of humming in your heart center which is filled with warm and perfect broth and noodle. Every bite has a spoonful of meat. Every One I tell you! Little eye contact is made because of the solopsistic personal glory all are enjoying. The taste lingered but it was only a pleasant one. In a post-pho extasy I wandered around the old quarter of Hanoi, mildly manic, searching for springrolls, mindlessley buying a box of Pirated DVD's, the sheen of broth still on my lips and in my eyes. It was truly a miraculous moment."
The only thing that I would like to add is that when we were there, a little girl slurped her bowl down so quickly that she puked on herself right at the table. Just happy it wasn't me.
Krosin also included a great quote at the end of his email from Principal Skinner about his stay at the Hanoi Hilton: "I spent the next three years in a POW camp forced to subsist on a thin stew of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk, and four kinds of rice. I came close to madness trying to find it here in the States, but they just can't get the spices right."
|True that, brother.|