When thinking of pub fare, buffalo wings, burgers and pizza typically come to mind. But walking by the entrance of Froggy Bottom Pub, a popular hangout for GW students, a bright orange, neon sign reveals the restaurant’s one very atypical offering: pho.
Pho – pronounced “fuh” – is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup served with chicken, beef or assorted vegetables, said Hien Bui, who owns Froggy along with her husband, Hoang. But while the dish is available, it’s conspicuously absent from the American-style menu.
The idea of selling pho at the restaurant started when Bui would prepare the dish for her husband and staff. Bui said they encouraged her to offer the dish to customers, even though it clashed with the restaurant’s genre. The decision to offer pho came after Froggy printed new menus, at a cost of $1,000. Uncertain as to how successful the dish would be, Bui said they ultimately decided not to officially add Pho to the menu.
Financial factors were not the only reason that pho is not on the menu, though. Bui said she decided to leave it to the customer to order the dish without seeing it in print first because a traditional Vietnamese dish “would look ridiculous” among the traditional American food.
Although pho is traditionally served at dinner, Froggy offers it around the clock.
Its absence from the menu has not discouraged patrons from ordering the dish. Ever since it was introduced, Bui said pho is very popular among students and all other patrons who enjoy eating something different from the routine.
Bui said cooking the dish is a time-consuming effort and can be complicated. A broth of rice noodles that includes ginger, clovers, salt, and oxtails for flavoring starts it off. Then chicken, beef or vegetables is added. The finish at the restaurant includes bean sprouts, cilantro, a wedge of lime for taste, hoisin (a Chinese dipping sauce), and – although not customary – hot sauce.
For the bound-to-be burger-weary customer, pho can be a cheap, exciting and tasty option at a classic American establishment.