We all have “that day" at work. Mine is a regularly scheduled meeting that begins at 6 in the morning and often continues until noon, leaving me spent and in need of a simple yet satisfying meal to recharge and take on the rest of the work day. On days like this, you’ll find me heading for a personal favorite, a lunch of pho and banh mi, or as I simply call it, “soup and sandwich,” at Banh Mi So #1.
Pho bo - pronounced “fuh bo” (just pretend you are shrugging your shoulders as you say it) - is a deeply satisfying noodle soup based around a murky broth of simmered beef, beef bone, charred onions, ginger and spices that will vary from kitchen to kitchen.
Diners at Banh Mi So #1 can expect subtle hints of cinnamon, star anise and clove that meld with tableside additions of basil, lime juice and chili sauce. Although many look forward to the dish’s thinly sliced beef and long strands of Vietnamese noodles that get joyfully slurped, I can’t get enough of that broth, which is perfect for dunking your banh mi in. That is obviously after savoring a few bites of crisp-crusted French bread, bright cilantro, rocket-hot jalapeño peppers and charbroiled sections of pork. The banh mi at Banh Mi So#1 is simply one of the best sandwiches to be found in St. Louis, and at $4.25, one of the most affordable as well.
What’s not to be missed besides the soup and sandwich? A tall glass of floral Tra Da, a fragrant Vietnamese iced tea with a flavor to rival the complexity of pho broth and cut through the bite of jalapeño pepper at the same time. For me, a second glass before heading back to work is the perfect ending to a restorative midday meal of Vietnamese comfort food.
Banh Mi So #1, 4071 South Grand Blvd., 314.353.0545, banhmiso1.com