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PHO - A Long, Long, Way to Run

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It's 2am. You’ve closed the bar down and you need something to soak up the alcohol. If you’re on the Westside, you might hit a coffeeshop. If you’re on the Eastside, it’s a taqueria. But if you are in Koreatown, it’s all about the Pho. This Vietnamese noodle soup has taken Koreatown by storm, almost surpassing Korean BBQ in popularity.

All night long, the brightly-lit noodle shops that line Western Avenue are jumping. The people-watching alone is priceless, as tables full of drunken 20-somethings holler at the tops of their lungs, jokingly threaten each other with chairs, and generally freak out the wait staff. These 24-hour pho places do not sell beer, accept only cash, and rarely have anyone around who speaks English. The décor is minimalist strip-mall, with your placemat serving double duty as your menu. Some of the places have little call buttons at the table to summon your server.

Pho is more than just a soup, with its overabundance of vermicelli noodles, various meats, and a selection of garnishes that can be mixed into the soup according to your own taste. The standard garnishes are Thai basil, lime, sliced white onions, and jalapenos, as well as condiments like Hoison sauce and hot sauce. Sometimes cilantro and lemon are also included in the garnish selection. Pho is also served in bowls bigger than your head.