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Q:I have been searching for a pho restaurant that serves a tasty soup like the one that used to be available at Viet Huong. As the weather turns cooler, I look forward to a large bowl of combination pho to kill the chill. I have tried several of the restaurants on South Federal, but was not overly impressed. Do you have any suggestions?

A:When done right, pho — which is difficult to pronounce unless you really grasp the tonal languages, but "fuh" comes close — can be one of the most rewarding soups on the planet. Packed with nutrients and flavor, this Vietnamese soup is popular in its country of origin any time of the day, but is often eaten as a breakfast meal — a tough concept for those of us who like to mainline bacon and doughnuts first thing in the a.m. But pho is so much better for us: Warm, comforting, low in fat and accompanied by fresh herbs and vegetables.

Most Vietnamese restaurants in the area have pho on the menu, but only a few specialize in it. If I could eat pho at only one place, it would have to be Pho Duy (945 South Federal, 303-937-1609), an unpretentious place filled with long tables where people commune over their daily pho. Don’t be shy — everyone’s so intent on the contents of the baby-bathtub-sized bowls they’re bending over that you’ll fit right in, and the servers are very helpful. Pick from a variety of good-quality meats, all of which arrive floating in a concentrated, multi-layered broth. The side condiments — basil leaves, hot peppers, lime wedges and bean sprouts — are always absolutely fresh.

Two more options: Pho 99 (2200 West Alameda Avenue, 303-936-9696) and Pho 79 (781 South Federal, 303-922-2930), which don’t appear to be related, both offer well-seasoned stocks and fresh ingredients in a congenial atmosphere.

Kyle Wagner


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