Thai Sapa

thai sapa pho My first bowl of pho in Utah! Notice I say Utah and not Salt Lake… that would be because is was actually in Springdale, UT right outside Zion National Park (literally starts where the park ends). Cort and I went for a midweek spontaneous camping trip. Because we can because we are still unemployed. So we packed our bags and drove for 4 long hours. And after google maps directed us to the WRONG DEAD END entrance (aka Kolob Canyon) we finally made it. And it was a lovely day. Blue skies with scattered clouds. Not too hot, fairly windy.

We hiked up the three Falls right across from the Lodge. I unfortunately had a severely hard time due to elevation acclimation (or lack thereof) and we had to take many more rests than usual. But we made it to the Big Falls and took a nice long relax on some boulders, staring through the trees, tuning out the HORDES of people and children.  And since it was a particularly strenuous hike we took it easy the rest of the evening and went for THAI!

I ordered a pot of delicious green tea and of course the pho.  Cort ordered Tom Kha and thai tea. It was all delicious. The pho was delicately seasoned and had a decent amount of vegetables (though it could have used more chicken.) It was rejuevenating and refreshing and filling. The perfect meal for a first day of hiking.


Pho 68

IMG_2697 (2)

Like every Lee Lee’s Market I’ve been to (that would be two) there has to be a Pho place and a Boba tea shop right next to it. In the case of Tucson and Chandler, the set up is nearly identical. Connected to the left of Lee Lee’s is the Vietnamese restaurant and in the adjacent L connected building to the left of the Pho place is a Boba shop.

It’s eerie how much the same they are.

But. The pho bowls at Pho 68 are absolutely delicious. A close second to Un-Pho-Gettable (which has the best vegetable pho soup I have yet to try), the beef pho here is delicious. The broth is rich and full bodied, the noodles are cooked perfectly in the boiling broth and the meat is quite good too. Though I can’t say I’m a fan of the meatballs, the beef slices are very tender and delicious.

IMG_2701 (2)


There is a perfect portioning of bean sprouts, thai basil, lime and jalapeños to add into the soup. I also like how they serve you a preportioned side of sauce (usually sriracha and hoison sauce) that you can either use as is or add more of either condiment.



IMG_2698 (2)


Pho-tastic Adventures in Vietnamese Cooking – CHALLENGE

Can you guess from the title what I’m making? No? I’m sure the pho-to gave it away though!

This week my friend and I decided to do a challenge with each other!

The terms – make a chosen recipe within a week. The stakes – a satisfied tummy or a frustrated burnt pot of nothing.

The recipe – Ready, set, pho! (It is just too much pho-n using all these puns and homonyms. I apologize if you are groaning. But I don’t really care because it’s a blast to write!)

I love Pho. It is one of my top favortie Asian soups. It’s warm, spicy, comforting, refreshing and cooling all at the same time. Plus you simply can’t beat the price per serving ration. Usually around $8-10 for a GIANT BOWL that will give you leftovers (usually two more meals’ worth!)

I was excited to try making it on my own. But HOO-HEE. The authentic from-scratch method takes over 3 hours and the use of beef knuckles and leg bones… and I’m really just not familiar with nor comfortable with using such new ingredients in such a new dish. (This recipe at Steamy Kitchen seems very easy to follow though, if you are daring enough!)

I briefly researched a vegetarian version, correctly assuming it would be easier. But the recipe makers themselves often said the flavor just isn’t as rich. There really is NO replacing the scrumptious heartiness of a bovine’s bones and flesh boiled into your soup.

So I looked for the cheater’s version.

After much research (okay only like 3 different sites. I get bored and HUNGRY easily!) I decided I’d combine a couple recipes together. This is mainly a mashup of the long version from Steamy Kitchen and the cheater’s version from Tale of 2 Kitchens.

IMG_2016(2)So. This soup wasn’t actually quite pho.,,

It was really good! It had the definite trademark flavors of pho… but it was too sweet and rich. The broth is obviously too dark. And I left out the beef because I am too lazy and fail at grocery shopping.

This pho-inspired soup was rich and warm and spicey – but in a full of spices way. I think I used too much of the seasoning packet. Or maybe I used the wrong one?

Finding the proper ingredients for a new recipe in an Asian supermarket is RIDICULOUSLY hard. I will chuckle at my bewilderment and overwhelmed searching in a few years… I’m sure. Once I’m more experienced and confident in my recipes and ingredients. (Vietnamese is really difficult to figure out. Thank gods that there is always a transliteration with “phò” boldly printed on anything having to do with… well, pho.)

I’d write out my recipe, but suffice it to say I’m not sure it’s replicable or worth replicating. I definitely DO want to try this again though! Maybe more closely following a legit recipe. Perhaps I will do the whole multiple hour long process someday soon after all.

But in the meantime, if there were winners, I think it would be Nikki. At least hers LOOKS like pho should. XP

(She will shortly be having a blog to which I will link this post! Check back for updates!)