KangNam Pho House, Oakland CA
We were in the mood for simple, satisfying Asian food for dinner, and Vietnamese phở came to mind. Sitting in Oakland’s KONO, or Koreatown Northgate, is KangNam Pho House, with primarily Vietnamese fare. The atmosphere is slightly schizophrenic, with American pop music in the background, Korean and Vietnamese writing on the signs, and no Asian patrons in sight. However, that did not deter us from enjoying the traditional phở.
Part of eating phở is dressing it yourself to taste with various fresh fruits and vegetables. What made us truly savor our bowls was the freshness of this produce, bringing about a richness and depth to our otherwise simple noodle soups.
August ordered a regular-sized bowl of chicken phở, but to her it seemed anything but regular. It’s a big amount, especially for the price (around $7), so you know it’s impossible to go home from here and still be hungry. The chicken was boneless and plentiful, floating amidst the copious and tender noodles. Two onions, green and white, enhanced the mild chicken broth. August didn’t add any sriracha, but after taking the picture she mixed in some of the fresh produce, providing more texture and flavor.
Zach’s large phở with rare steak and well-done brisket was hearty and perfect for a chilly late afternoon. The rare steak was very tender, and the brisket was tasty and fell apart in your mouth. The broth was rich in beef flavor, and not at all overly salted. Zach jazzed his up with everything from the fresh produce plate, plus a little sriracha. After squirting in the sriracha and letting the fruit and vegetables steep, Zach got the spicy kick that he was looking for to open up his sinuses, with the added benefit of earthy savor.
KangNam Pho House is extremely wallet friendly – Zach’s large phở was only about a dollar more than August’s, and there is a kids’ menu so families are more than welcome to bring the whole crew without worrying about future college tuition. The restaurant was hiding a secret behind the building, a they have a private parking lot! Don’t let anyone else know, though, otherwise people might come flooding in to park there but visit other establishments. If you find your way to KangNam Pho House’s parking, walk right in to try it out.