‘Pho Men’ Promises An Experience

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本当のアジア! (=real Asian)

PHO-MEN on Troy, the groundbreaking Asian noodle-centric restaurant that is billed as the first kosher one of its kind, will be opening its doors this week in Crown Heights.

The staff of COLlive.com was invited to a private pre-opening tasting of the menu ahead of the soft opening planned for Wednesday when there will be seating by reservation only at first.

From appetizers to mains, we were served generous portions that were filling and fun to eat, whether you are adept at eating with chopsticks or not. What they all had in common were their freshness and adventurous flavor.

Appetizers included summer rolls filled with rice noodles, pickled and fresh vegetables and surimi with a spicy authentic peanut butter sauce. There were fresh salads such as crunchy green papaya and Japanese hijiki seaweed salad, and an amazing crispy rice cake over pulled beef with Asian pickles.

They serve a variety of Bahn Mi sandwiches with a combination of meat and vegetable layers, served on a fresh baguette. They also have a selection of refreshing fruit drinks, like cucumber water, strawberry orange and blueberry-lime.

But the center of attention is clearly the restaurant’s two specialties, authentic Ramen and Pho. Both are hearty, delicious, and full of different flavors.

Ramen, with an intense smoky flavor, is served with a soft boiled egg, and a variety of chicken, beef or soy.

Pho, with a sweeter and lighter flavor, is served with a choice of chicken, beef cuts, chicken or meatballs, or all combined. The bowl of pho is served with a smaller bowl of fresh bean sprouts, herbs and citrus on the side, which the customer can add to their dish to their liking.

Owner Levi Jurkowicz is well aware that these names – and the nature of the dishes themselves – are foreign to many Americans and especially kosher consumers.

“I will be spending time educating restaurant guests on the types of dishes we serve for those who are experiencing authentic Kosher Asian cuisine for the first time,” he told us.

“Japan is one noodle loving country,” he explains. “Walk down any street in Tokyo and you’re bound to come across two or three noodle joints, captained by chefs who know how to cook the stuff well.

“In Japan, restaurants will typically serve only one type of dish, so if you’re at a soba joint for example, expect only soba, but expect it to be done right. Usually, when we think of Japan and noodles, we instantly think of ramen. But there are actually a few more varieties.”

Here is how Jurkowicz explains the essence of the 2 most popular types of noodles in Japan which Pho Men willl be serving:

Ramen

Ramen is popular across the country, and each region has its own variety. Ramen noodles are wheat-based, darker yellow “pulled” noodles of Chinese origin. They should be long, springy, and cooked al dente, to a firm chew. They pair well with the thick, rich, bold broths that enhance the taste of the ramen noodle. Broth, often fortified with a multitude of flavorings and flavored animal fats is what makes ramen stand out among other types of Japanese noodles.

With dozens of varieties of delicious broth ranging from the rich and hearty to the light and refreshing, it’s possible to live in Japan for a few months and not eat the same ramen twice. The most popular broths are a simple shoyu (soy sauce based broth) and shio (salt based broth) but other types such as miso, tonkotsu (bone based broth) and even curry broths have gained significant popularity with large swathes of Japanese people.

Ramen is usually topped with a piece of nori, a slice of roast meat, bamboo slices, and half a soft-boiled egg. A wide variety of other toppings, such as sweet corn, mushrooms, plain, grilled or even fried tofu can be added.

Pho

Unlike Japanese noodle dishes, where noodle is intended to be the star ingredient, with broth and toppings relegated to supporting roles, pho is all about the broth. Good pho broth has no noticeable fat, has velvety texture and very light complexion, yet is highly nuanced in flavor.

Eating good pho is not much different from French consommé or drinking good wine. One should expect layers upon layers of subtle flavors of vegetables, fruits, aromatics, dry spices and herbs used to create the crescendo complex flavor. Fresh herbs, chilies and lime are used to amplify and accentuate the flavors of the broth while customizing the heat and acidity levels.

Noodles, proteins and toppings are there to further enhance the dish without interfering with the broth. These items are generally designed to deliver bursts of flavor or offer a different texture and create a contrast with the velvety smooth broth. Good pho is very easy to eat, feels like a light meal, yet is very satisfying and filling.

Pho-Men on Troy
411 Troy Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11213
(718) 816-0200
Under CHK – Rabbi Braun

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