Rating: 8 / 10
The demons of broth-shakes awoke, propelling me into an uneasy wakeful state where the mind and the body felt a deep disconnection. I wandered around in a half-daze plying myself with coffee, to no avail. As the fractured compartments of life fell into place like an awkward game of Tetris, I sought an answer to his suffering.
The answer? Pho.
A friend sent me a text saying he had heard of a great Pho place in the town of Strømmen, around 30 minutes from Oslo, and that he was prepared to rent a car to get out there and try a bowl. Would I join? Would I fuck!
We met on a day when the wind had turned nasty, unlocked the car, aimed the headlights and drove on vacation filled roads where the anxious class were lusting for weekend cabins. The car was parked and the gang of Pho-seekers hobbled down the gloomy streets of Strømmen full of fear, anticipation and excitement. What would await us in this tiny enclave that had been so far undiscovered.
Along the main street we began to see numerous Vietnamese shops. Thai massage parlours, Karate Halls, Indian restaurants.... what on earth was going on?
The door was opened and a beautiful hit of Vietnamese cooking filled the air. Eager customers sat at their tables telling stories between chopstick attacks. We found a quiet corner, ordered our bowls and looked around, positively expectant that this could be something special.
Our bowls arrived like a parade of pottery, shiny from the broth and green from the herbs. We were left alone by the kind waiter to begin the odyssey of slurping and chewing, questioning for a second, and then repeating.
Verdict? Spot on!
Broth was sippingly vibrant, not too heavy on the cinnamon and star anise, the noodles were correct, meatballs springy and the accompaniments adequately stacked in foliage patterns.
We spooned until the empty stare of the vessel looked back at us, paid our bills, chit-chatted with the cashier and left rubbing our tummies at what had been an unexpected triumph.
I dare say this Pho was better than 90% of bowls in the big city, so maybe Strømmen is literally where its at?
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"