What do suffering through cold weather, a mild illness and a raging hangover all have in common? They're all best treated with a big bowl of pho. The traditional Vietnamese soup is typically served in a beef broth, so finding a real vegetarian stock and be tricky. The noodle experts at Saigon Bowl in Far East Center on South Federal Boulevard have the veg crowd covered. The extensive menu can be hard to navigate, but ask for the vegetarian pho and you'll receive a piping hot bowl of rice noodles in meat-free broth covered in an array of vegetables and tofu.
Often, the vegetarian option gets overlooked; if you’re lucky, a few diced carrots and a stalk of broccoli or two are added to a vast sea of broth and noodles, leaving you to fill up mostly on liquid. That’s not the case at Saigon Bowl. Snap peas, bok choy, carrots, onions, broccoli, celery and baby corn accompany the tofu, creating a shield of nutrients to tackle before diving into the rice noodles.
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Lured in by the vegetarian option, we returned twice in one week (blame it on the snow) for the perfectly cooked vegetables, tofu that actually had structure and didn’t fall apart in the broth, and noodles that were not overdone either. There is nothing worse than getting a bowl full of mush when you’re expecting delicious Vietnamese flavors.
Whether sick with a bug, sick and tired of the snow, or just recovering from last night's overindulgence, pho is perfect for replenishing any depleted body. Nutrients that would otherwise get cooked out of vegetables get absorbed into the broth — so be sure to slurp down every last bit of the tasty soup and you’ll be feeling good as new. Kick it up a notch and add a few splashes of sriracha to clear out your sinuses while you’re at it.
What we love almost as much as the dish itself? The price tag. At just $5.50 for a small and $6.50 for a medium, you won't leave hungry or annoyed. Vegetarian or not, diners can’t deny the healthy and heartiness of the vegetarian noodle soup — and that’s a win win, pho real.