Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pho Duy II, Pho When I'm Sick

Despite the fun and sun of Nicaragua, upon returning I almost immediately got sick. Nothing too bad to keep me away from my nine to five, but one of those winter head colds that, much to the pleasure of co-workers and wife alike, left me without a voice for several days. All week long, in hope of some relief, I was sucking on cough drops, knocking back cough syrup and sipping on organic throat teas. All that is fine, I suppose, but in times like these, what I really need to clear the head and soothe the throat is a fat, steamy bowl of beef pho. 

Enter Pho Duy II, way out of the way on North Peoria somewhere a little south of the train tracks and I-70. The sign is glowing white and blue, prominent at night against the dark, vast background of empty lots and open spaces in this forgotten corner of Aurora. 

It's Saturday night and the place is about as packed as I have seen, mostly with Mexican and Asian families. My wife and I are seated symbolically in the middle of this cultural medley. I look up at the muted NCIS episode playing in the corner but my eyes are diverted by a wonderfully tacky painting of idyllic waterfalls and soaring gulls.


The menu is straightforward pho. I ordered a large raw beef, my wife a small chicken. The broth is consistently a little plain here, but it does the trick, and is salvageable with the right balance of fresh herbs, lime juice, fish sauce, Hoisin and Sriracha. My beef was tender and plentiful as always. The chicken, which my wife loves, was as usual, a little chewy, and in my opinion not worth getting when the beef is this good. Inhaling the spicy steam was just what I needed for some sinus relief. After a few delicious slurps I was breathing right again, my dry throat was soothed and I was feeling much better.



We also ordered the spring rolls which came with beef and shrimp. Wrapped in thin rice paper and dipped in an average peanut-type sauce, they were good enough to bide time while waiting for the pho, but it's best that this place keeps its focus on just pho.



After ordering I continued to peruse the interesting selection of drinks opposite the pho items. To pass the time, I flagged down our server to ask her about something that caught my interest: salty lemonade. What ensued was an extremely awkward conversation where I couldn't understand her broken English nor she my broken, hoarse voice. My wife served as our interpreter of sorts, and what I gathered was that lemons sat curing in salt for a month or so, then were made into lemonade. One of those lemon slices would even appear in my glass, the server assured. Sounded pretty awful, but I ordered one despite my better judgment. It tasted like swimming in the ocean then sucking on a pickled lemon; all salt with the first sips and then the fermented lemon hits hard. It actually made my stomach turn a little bit. 


Apparently, people suck on this lemon too


Nevertheless, Pho Duy II provides a reliable bowl of Pho. When I'm sick there is nothing better. I will admit that it probably won't win awards as Denver's best pho, but it is quite good, and I do end up there with some regularity. The service is friendly and efficient, it's never too crowded and the atmosphere is authentic Denver.  3371 N. Peoria St. in Aurora. 


Pho Duy Restaurant II on Urbanspoon

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