With a history as rich as the broth it is known for, pho comes from mid-1880s cuisine in Northern Vietnam by way of Chinese and French influences. Primarily made with rice noodles and spices popular of the period in China, the slow-cooked soup took hold in Vietnam as French cuisine popularized eating red meat.
For Ly Hoa, bringing those historical and cultural influences to life in Ardmore is a dream come true. “It’s really important for a community to have diversity,” she said. Hoa is the descendant of many generations of pho and coffee shopkeepers from her home country of Vietnam. Her food, she said, is not simply influenced by Vietnamese cuisine and culture. “This IS my culture,” Hoa said.
The authenticity of the food and of the atmosphere is important to Hoa. “In my country, with my family, I grew up in the markets,” Hoa said. She described streets filled with stalls, vendors, and people from all walks of life, sharing food and stories together. “My mom always cooked food for us, so that’s why I love to make my own food like she taught me; it’s like she is always around.”
Hoa said her family lived on the market street, where their shops were open to those shopping or hoping for a drink or meal. In Vietnam, locals would go out fishing before dawn, bringing fresh seafood to the market as early as 5 a.m. “I am working hard to make sure the food here is as fresh as the markets back home,” Hoa said. Bringing fresh goods to the market makes it a colorful and bright affair every day, Hoa said.
Hoa’s father had a tea and coffee shop and her aunt made pho at the market. “My dad always had many styles of coffee and other drinks,” Hoa said. “I remember the wonderful smells being part of my life every day.”
“Now I want to bring my my tradition here,” Hoa said. “Pho is not just a winter food. It is a fresh and healthy food for all seasons.” Hoa said pho is cooked for nine hours, then noodles, vegetables and meat are added to the hot broth. Tender meats like brisket or filet mignon and fresh produce from Thai basil, peppers, mushrooms and bean sprouts bring flavor and freshness together in a colorful homage to Hoa’s Vietnamese heritage.
“In my memory is a beautiful picture,” Hoa said. “When a customer comes into the restaurant, you want them to see the most colorful, wonderful place, filled with welcoming smells and smiles.” Hoa said it is her dream to have her own shop where happy people can come to enjoy her food, much like the ones she remembers from her home country.
“I love that feeling whenever it’s a busy time for me,” Hoa said. “Welcoming people and serving the best food is the most important thing to me.” Hoa said cooking in her restaurant is like bringing her family here with her.
Hoa said that Noodle House will serve pho and fried rice, along with other dishes and specialty treats, including boba. “We will have a menu on paper for everyone to mark, kind of like a dim sum selection,” Hoa said. “You will be able to choose protein and toppings to make your meal exactly what you like.”
Noodle House is set to open on 12th Street near I-35. Visit their Facebook page for a preview of the menu: https://www.facebook.com/people/Pho-12-noodle-house/100074772181167/.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Ardmoreite: Ardmore’s Noodle House brings taste of home all the way from Vietnam