Top Five: Phos

Slow and Steady

Super Bowl Pho, 112 E. Main St., Westfield, 317- 399-7858,  superbowlphowestfield.com
Beef bones simmered for as long as 18 hours make the broth for Vietnam’s famous soup especially rich and sweet at this quaint spot in Westfield run by uncle-and-nephew duo Leo Van and Tony Nguyen. This means you won’t need to reach for a bottle of Sriracha or hoisin sauce to round out the flavors in this especially balanced version, best appreciated in its simplest presentation with just noodles and tender rare beef.

Hopefully this helps kick the sore throat I woke up with today #pho #comfortfood #soup #vietnamesefood #lunch

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Star Player King Wok, 4150 Lafayette Rd., 317-295-8090, kingwok-indy.com An aromatic hit (star anise, perhaps?) distinguishes the light, pristine pho at this Lafayette Road standard—a perfect restorative elixir on a cool day that won’t weigh you down. And the bowl is generous enough to share with the table so you can enjoy King Wok’s other stir-fried and noodle-based dishes.


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Good to Go

Saigon, 4760 W. 38th St., 317-927-7270, saigonrestaurant-indy.com
One of the longest-running and most consistent Asian eateries in the city, Saigon, now housed in a former Bob Evans on West 38th Street, serves up a shimmering pho with a medium body and gentle spicing—perfect for customizing with plenty of herbs, garnishes, and sauces. For to-go orders, they pack every ingredient carefully in individual containers, so this is the place to stop when you want to enjoy a comforting bowl at home.

Beef #stew with rice noodles. Yummy on a chilly day! #dinner #asian #diningout #Vietnamese

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Dark and Deep Sizzling Wok Hai, 4351 Lafayette Rd., 317-297-3441 With a host of excellent curries and clay-pot dishes, not to mention some of Indy’s best rice-paper rolls and lemongrass chicken, it might be hard to save room for soup at this Chinese-Vietnamese storefront on Lafayette Road. But the dark, fortified pho—perhaps eyebrow-raising for purists—will have you dipping your spoon back in again and again to guess at the flavors.

Starter Soup

Egg Roll No. 1, 4576 S. Emerson Ave., 317-787-2225, eggroll1.com
A cult favorite on the south side that’s no longer just a secret of Asian-food insiders, this surprisingly spiffy spot features plenty of Chinese offerings as well as Thai and Vietnamese specialties. Light and subtle, the pho here is an excellent entry-level version that’s as refreshing as it is hearty.

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.