I have waited almost two years for my chance to pick a Foodies location…sigh…It was with GREAT pleasure and no hesitation that I selected Pho Dakao on Park Ave. My husband and I were introduced to this establishment by dear friends a little over a year ago and have returned at least a dozen times. The food is always delightful…and on a brisk, autumn evening, nothing soothes the soul (or a lingering cold) better than a piping hot bowl of traditional Vietnamese pho…pronounced “pha” as I was quickly and adamantly corrected by one of my Vietnamese students. Upon being seated, I glanced at the menu, and knew, almost instantaneously, which pho dish my taste buds craved…number 21 – Phở Rau Cải – vegetable noodle soup. While I adore Pho, I am very particular with how I order the soup…and how I prepare it once it is served. I start with the chicken broth because I have found it to be more flavorful than the beef broth. I always order the white noodles because I like their consistency and find that they absorb the flavors of the dish without being to heavy. I also order extra broccoli and no cilantro. The cilantro is KEY to my ordering because to me, it is an herb that can be overpowering and take over the dish. I would rather enjoy each individual flavor mixed together in every spoonful. Like always, my soup arrived hot and was served with a heaping side of bean sprouts, fresh basil, lime, chili peppers and ALL of the delightful Vietnamese sauces. Having learned my lesson from past visits, I knew that the small would satiate even my most intense hunger and I was not disappointed. The bowl was filled with perfectly cooked al dente broccoli florets, squash, zucchini, carrots and peppers, mixed with a generous portion of noodles. To the bowl, I added a handful of sprouts, and 2-3 tablespoons of Sriracha sauce for some heat for my palate, and…my secret ingredient…a splash of fish sauce…yes fish sauce…don’t be afraid..it makes the dish, I PROMISE! At Pho Dakao, the fish sauce is sneakily placed on the table in a clear container that resembles your stereotypical soy sauce…don’t be tricked! Take it from me, in order to have a TRULY delicious bowl of pho, the secret is really in the incredibly flavorful fish sauce. Mixed together = perfection. I ate every noodle, every vegetable, and every ounce of broth! I clearly enjoyed my soup and will be back for more!