Pho seems to be a big deal around Salt Lake City these days. Some might even call “going for pho” a hipster thing to do. But let’s be honest, trendy or not, pho can be one of the best, and most satisfying meals to enjoy. Now that the weather is finally starting to cool down, soup of any kind starts sounding delicious. However, there is something different about the experience of pho. Maybe it is the side of fresh and pungent mint leaves, bean sprouts, and lime. Or maybe it is drenching the noodles in hoison and hot sauce. Whatever it is for each person, the entire experience of eating pho is simple, and yet totally adaptable depending on your personal tastes.
If you don’t know much about pho, go ahead an Google it now. In short, it is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup served with different condiments and various types of beef, chicken, or tofu. In other words, pho is amazing.
There are a few places I really love to eat pho in Salt Lake City. Oh Mai is one of my favorites. Their broth, which is the base of a any good pho, is a little more complex than others I have had. You can also get a pretty good pho at Sapa during lunch, as well as many other places throughout the city. However, last week we went for pho at La Cai Noodle House. I hadn’t been there in years, and we were looking for something new. Russ had never been, so we were excited to check it out. The pho is reasonably priced, and you can tell by the number of people in the packed restaurant ordering it, that it was the most popular dish.
I ordered the Pho with Meatballs ($7.75) – and it was perfection. The broth was delicious and not too salty and all of the ingrediants were very fresh. The mint and lime were bright and beautiful and the noodles weren’t the least bit mushy! With such a simple soup, pho can be fairly easy to mess up. Broth with too much salt can ruin the whole experience, and mushy noodles can as well. This pho was amazing on a cool fall evening.
We also enjoyed some other great items at La Cai Noodle House. We had heard that the Vietnamese Egg Rolls ($6.75) were not to miss, so made sure to put in an order. The flavor was rich and the dipping sauce added just enough vinegar. This baby was definitely deep-friend though, so I can’t imagine it is low in calories. The question then always becomes, is the flavor WORTH the calories? In this case, I would say yes. But you probably want to share it.
Russ ordered the Stir-fried Flat Rice Noodle with beef ($9.75). This dish was also super yummy and hearty in flavor – the sauce was creamy and complex. The beef was succulent and the noodles were great. You can definitely tell that La Cai Noodle House uses fresh ingredients and truly cares about the complexity of flavors they create. It is definitely not your run of the mill Vietnamese noodle house. Each flavor note stands out, making dishes bright and interesting.
Next time you are looking for dinner on a cool fall evening, I encourage you to check out La Cai Noodle House and its delicious pho. And while you are there, try some other delightful menu items. La Cai is a Salt Lake staple and has been around for years — and there is certainly a reason why.
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La Cai Noodle House
961 South State Street, Salt Lake City