Mar 3, 2007
Pronounced Fuhhh. Spelled in Vietnamese as pho, it’s pronounced the same. Whatever you call it, I call it liquid heaven.
When the French brought the Vietnamese to Laos to be their bureaucrats, the Vietnamese brought foe. I’m very appreciative as I like it best of all the things they brought, better than the fresh baguette, better than liver pate, better than the dark coffee in drinking glasses, better even than the pretty Vietnamese girls.
I’ve never been to Vietnam, so I can’t compare. Lao foe is above all fresh tasting, similar to the rest of the food. In Thailand they have a noodle soup called Quway Tyow. Quway Tuow is dead and heavy. Foe is alive.
The basis for foe is above all the good soup stock. When we butchered up an elk back home one of the best parts was that we now had a large supply of good quality bones. We can’t buy good bones in the super market where we live. Normally they are sold for dogs and are old, or with ribs and too meaty. Good bones make a very flavourful but light soup stock. Good foe needs to be transparent and shiny.
Tdooee Foe Jao Gow
This restaurant is called Tdooee Foe Jao Gow and it’s in Dalat Kuwa Din. Dalat Kuwa Din is the wet market next to the bus station in downtown Vientiane. To find this foe restaurant walk all the way to the back of the market to where there is car parking. Not behind the market next to the klong where there is also parking, but rather the car parking that is in the market. Along the south side of the parking lot are a row of dry goods stores, follow that row of stores east past the edge of the parking area and you are there. For reference the big road out by the front of the market is south, the bus station is west. You could print the photo here and take it with you.
We found (meaning my wife found it, I use we in the liberal sense) this market three years ago and it’s still there today, maybe it will be around for a while. The name would lead you to believe so. Tdooee is simply a name like Joe or Mike, foe is the soup, joa gow means the old one, or the old place.
I asked what was in the stock and the daughter of the owner said yes to beef bones, salt, and bang nua, but when I asked what else she just smiled. I tasted a tiny hint of cinnamon, maybe it was star anise, whatever it was it’s not there to be tasted, only in the background. They were light on both the salt and the bang nua. Probably they figured if someone wanted it they could add, it’s on the table, or maybe they figure the sauce is rich enough to stand on it’s own.
The greens on the side were the classic three, mint, basil, and fresh leaves of lettuce. As soon as I would eat some lettuce more would appear. There is another plate with hot peppers and slices of lime on it. I always squeeze in a couple slices of lime, just the kind of guy I am. I always skip all hot stuff in soups, My cilia don’t work and hot stuff goes down the wrong pipe. No cilia from doing hits on short hot pipes for too many years, burnt em.
Daughter of Tdooee
Besides the broth and greens this place does the noodles to a T. At home I always over cook them and they come out droopy. The other sin is to under cook them, and that’s worse. At this place they are cooked only, just barely enough. They have to remain perky even sitting in the hot foe water.
The meat is the least important part for me. Of course if they cut corners they would lose customers, so they do it right. They use good fresh beef, sliced paper thin and placed in the bowl just after the broth and noodles. The heat of the water is the only cooking it gets. When they throw in the meat balls and sausage the temp comes down cool enough so you can dish in right away.
The broth is hot, piping hot. I typically drink the water before eating the noodles. Serves two purposes, one it’s the part I like best, and two, when I eat the noodles they aren’t as wet, and don’t splash all over. The Loa call this draining the pond. The expression comes from the way they drain the water out of the rice field then catch all the fish left stranded. When the girls at the restaurant saw that I had drained the pond they brought me another bowl of just broth, I squeezed in a couple more limes and dug on in, almost couldn’t walk away.