The Maine Dish
What i ate last night: pho tai gan at thanh thanh 2
Thanh Thanh 2. Utter those two words and one numeral among the pho lovers of Portland, and the collective sigh of appreciation will reassure you that nothing has changed: THIS is the place for soup.
It’s pronounced “fuh.” Period. Say “foe” and your waiter will respond, “What number?” Some people say the name is derived from the French pot au feu, which makes sense given the French influence in Vietnamese cuisine and since pho basically just that: a vat of meat and broth and stuff. Of course, the omnipresent rice noodle is a key part of that “stuff,” along with classic Vietnamese aromatics like onion, cilantro, and basil.
My favorite version is Pho Tai Gan, thin slices of raw beef that cook through when they hit the blistering heat of Thanh Thanh 2′s aromatic beef broth, along with beef tendon, which I can only describe as a beefy and gelatinous al dente pasta. With a squirt of tương sauce and a liberal shot of rooster sauce to bring the heat, this pho is the answer to any number of life’s important questions, such as:
1) What’s for dinner?
2) God? Is that you?
3) What is this burning sensation all about?
782 Forest Avenue