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Go To Any Lengths, But Go And Get Pho

September 14th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

I just had to weigh in on the recent controversy regarding Pho. Of course these articles would come out the week we opened. The first is the controversial chef talking about his take on Pho and the second, which I really loved, is about why Pho is so important to the Vietnamese culture. I’m going to try and not put my foot in my mouth for fear that my favorite food magazine or news source decided to make me their poster boy in a negative way. Here’s why Pho is so important to me. I am a foreign service kid. My father was stationed is Southeast Asia for a good part of his career. The Asian culture was part of my life. My father’s identity as the first Secretary and Labor Attaché for the State Department in the Philippines, was in part shaped by the people in that region. He spoke the language, he and my mother adorned our home with everything from dragons to Buddha’s to beautiful artwork depicting the countryside. I went to schools there, my friends were there and I can became a man there. Fast forward to my days in San Francisco. As most of you may know, I lived a good part of my adult life in the bay area while being a part of the band, Jefferson Airplane. More stories for another time. I can tell you that the food that I ate while I lived there was mostly Asian Food. I know that Vietnamese cuisine did not really come to America until the 70’s after the fall of Saigon. That said, the regional specialties of southeast Asia have always been my delight when I could find them. Yes, I ate other things but my love of the “noodle” never wandered. I still eat at the same restaurant in Japan town that I ate at over 35 years ago. Mifuni (http://japancentersf.com/shopping/mifune-restaurant/) in the heart of japan town is where it’s at. I would never tell anyone how to eat their Pho. You don’t have to. The soup speaks for itself and that’s all I can say other than the choice to open up our own very small and very unique Pho restaurant in the heart of Appalachia is about that love. My chef, Justin Berry nailed it in my opinion. We live surrounded by farmers who care about their animals and care about their crops and we are so lucky to be able to offer most of our ingredients as local. Last but not least (I hope I have made some sort of point here) remember, it’s OK to slurp your noodles. I saw that on a sign in the Mifuni in the 70’s but I intuitively always knew that to be the case. Go check out a Pho restaurant in your own neck of the words. Hopefully, you won’t have far to go to get Pho to go.


Why Pho is central to Vietnamese identity.

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  1. carey georgas
    September 14th, 2016 at 12:22 | #1

    I knew it! I knew it! Pho at Fur Peace is not about an attempt at capturing a piece of a fad, or marketing, or whatever. It had to be deeper than that. Thank you, Jorma, for sharing that piece of your history. I’ve seen people put the hoisin and siracha in the soup (my personal preference) and I’ve seen them used as condiments to dip the meat in (also delicioso). If it tastes good, eat it! As for me, I got a 15 minute drive to a good little shop in Beaumont. Hmmm…wonder what’s for supper?

  2. anthony tedesco
    September 14th, 2016 at 12:51 | #2

    Pho sure!

  3. Barbara Jacobs
    September 14th, 2016 at 13:12 | #3

    I always thought that the only way to eat any soup noodles is the slurping method.

    On our way to see Willie Nelson last night, Mr. and Mrs. Ham’neggs stopped into the restaurant where Andriy works to see how the Ukraine and Russian food looks and is eaten. Then, on to Coney Island where we considered Mex, ended up at Grimaldi’s for pizza. There’s a few small Pho restaurants opening up in the neighborhoods of South Brooklyn. We already have Greek, Turkish, Japanese, Chinese,
    real Jewish deli’s and more. All within a half-mile radius. Good eating!

  4. Michael Langley
    September 14th, 2016 at 13:50 | #4

    Wow Jorma, who’d a thought you’d open a Pho eatery there at Fur Peace Ranch…although I have noted through your blogs you’ve fancied Thai, Chinese and Asian foods consistently over the years. Will your chef, Justin Berry, be serving up any Bun Bo Hue? One of my favorites. I have the honor of working in a multi-cultural environment with engineers from all over Asia, and the world for that matter. I’ve always enjoyed Chinese and Thai dishes, but in the mid-nineties found myself surrounded by a bunch of Vietnamese co-workers who introduced me to the delicious noodle soup Pho. They showed me how to doctor it up with tasty vegetables and sauces and I immediately became addicted. Little did I know that I’d someday travel to Vietnam and spend three weeks basking in the sweet heaven of the ancient capitol Hue. Then, explore China and in 2003 marry a Chinese woman. Now, every meal she makes is heaven at home. Enjoy your new endeavor with Justin culinary expertise, I’m sure it’ll be a favorite for many a visitor there at Fur Peace Ranch.

  5. George Henn
    September 14th, 2016 at 15:16 | #5

    You’re making me hungry, and I gotta get home to listen to Phos-pho-rescent Rat!

  6. carey georgas
    September 14th, 2016 at 16:26 | #6

    I apologize if I seem to be a blog hog, but this is the only place I talk on the computer, because people here are nice. I’m fixin’ to go out of town for two weeks, so I won’t be around here much, if any. I been waiting for a time to throw something out there so here goes:

    Has anyone in here ever had a conversation with a flat-earther? Now, I ain’t talkin’ about a chat room cuss fight – I mean face to face, look ’em in the eye conversation. Well, I had my first one the other day, and let me tell you something, if your patience and understanding muscles need a workout, get a hold of one of those cats. There’s a flat earth society website if you’re not familiar, but coming face to face with one was a trip such as I haven’t had in a while. The belief is based on Genesis Chapter 1, verses 6 & 7. There is no outer space, the heavens are an image cast onto a dome above us from somewhere down here. Above the dome is water. The dude did not believe in gravity, Admiral Byrd discovered a whole nother world inside the hollow earth when he went to the south pole, or maybe it was the north, and on and on. My head was spinning. Anyways, I had a few questions and disputed most of his premises, but we parted with a handshake and agreed to disagree. I had never met the man in my life, he just happened to be at a friend’s house when I stopped by. I was just wondering if anyone else around has had a similar experience.

  7. September 14th, 2016 at 16:32 | #7

    Barbara also showed me some nice pics of you and your dad backstage at a Seva benefit I believe. Some nice shots.
    I would love to try some of that veggie pho.
    Love All Ways

  8. Barbara Jacobs
    September 14th, 2016 at 16:40 | #8

    Jorma Senior. Jorma introduced him as : “This is my dad, Jorma Senior!”

    I was so thrilled to meet him: “Hello Jorma Senior, nice to meet you!”
    He hung out with us, with a bemused smile on his face the whole time.
    Back then (1994), I didn’t know anything about Jorma Senior’s service in WW2.
    If I had, I would have been asking him questions all night.@Ham n Eggs

  9. Barbara Jacobs
    September 14th, 2016 at 16:54 | #9

    I have met a few of the “flat-Earthers”. What can you say to them? I just smile and move along.

    There are some comment posters here, who worked themselves up into a feeding frenzy, they didn’t believe that my friend Andriy exists, as if I could not possibly have a friendship with a lowly, immigrant waiter. They accused me of posting comments, under the name “Andriy”. It was a sh*t show, with insults thrown at me/Andriy. Jorma allows free speech here, so they continued.
    Andriy finally stopped posting comments, he had better things to do.

    He continues to work happily at the restaurant. He enjoyed meeting Mr. and Mrs. Ham’eggs last night. He still loves Jorma and Hot Tuna.

    “Don’t follow leaders, watch your parking meters”

    Nuff said.

    @carey georgas

  10. carey georgas
    September 14th, 2016 at 17:10 | #10

    @Barbara Jacobs
    and the people said, “Amen”

  11. carey georgas
    September 14th, 2016 at 17:14 | #11

    so, Barbara, have you sat and talked to one, or just smiled? I took the talk on as a challenge to my belief, not his.@Barbara Jacobs

  12. Barbara Jacobs
    September 14th, 2016 at 17:26 | #12

    Well, we started out talking and then they tried to convince me to follow their beliefs. It’s one thing for them to believe whatever they want — it’s another thing, to try and enlist me to take-up their cause: Spread the word, jump on their bandwagon. Nope, not me. So I just smiled on moved on.

    Last night as we were exiting the venue, a drunken dude came up to me and started talking to me. I don’t know why, maybe he liked my cowboy hat.
    Mrs. Ham’nEggs said: “Did you know what he was talking about?”
    “No, I have no idea. I just smile and move along.”
    @carey georgas

  13. Barbara Jacobs
    September 14th, 2016 at 17:32 | #13

    More on that night with Jorma Senior:
    He was bemused, not in the way of confusion or real bewilderment — it’s just that he didn’t have that experience of hanging out.
    We all were talking about all sorts of things: going places, doing things; our experiences. And, there’s Jorma Senior, taking it all in.

    Knowing now, about where Jorma Senior had been, his service in WW2; what he did there during that time of war:

    We were all a bunch of (what my concentration camp survivor, Tanta Gertie would
    say) “A bunch of piss-pots!”

  14. Carey Georgas
    September 14th, 2016 at 17:56 | #14

    Gotcha. This guy was not proselytizing.@Barbara Jacobs

  15. Barbara Jacobs
    September 14th, 2016 at 18:18 | #15

    Thank G-d, you were able to shake hands and part ways. I had to escape, in the nicest way possible.

    Have safe travels for your upcoming weeks out of town. Wherever you’re going.
    Nice to chat with you here. Not everyone here likes when people post stories about what they do, where they go, who they meet…
    But most of us enjoy it.@Carey Georgas

  16. Ruby Russo
    September 14th, 2016 at 21:39 | #16

    The pho don’t make the music. I love pho & the music.
    P.S. Pho is delicious.

    @Barbara Jacobs

  17. September 15th, 2016 at 06:17 | #17

    Best choice made:
    Grimaldis coal fired pizza – can’t go wrong.

  18. Jerry Mariani
    September 15th, 2016 at 10:51 | #18

    Hey Jorma, One of our most favorite restaurants in our little town of Lafayette Colorado is a Pho restaurant (Pho Cafe). We are there so often they all know us by name and we get lots of hugs as well as great food. Next time you are in Colorado, we will take you there. I know you will love it. See you in November!!

  19. johno
    September 15th, 2016 at 11:52 | #19

    Anybody ever been to Frank Pepe’s pizza in New Haven CT. Voted the Best Pizza in the world. It is real good.

  20. sweetbac
    September 15th, 2016 at 12:03 | #20

    Hows ’bout a “Keep your Pho Trimmed n’ Burning>Feel So Pho” jam in GG Park, Jorma

  21. carey georgas
    September 15th, 2016 at 12:08 | #21

    Well, the only one that matters who likes how or what I post is our generous host. I’m going to Honolulu for five days and will be on Maui for eight more.

    Jorma, would you (or anyone else, for that matter) know of any Southeast Asian eateries down there worth recommending?

    Thanks…@Barbara Jacobs

  22. Rob
    September 15th, 2016 at 13:13 | #22

    Pho Le in Red Bank, NJ. They nail it!

  23. Jim Bacon
    September 15th, 2016 at 13:31 | #23

    Love those entries Jorma, especially about 9/11, a lot of people I know were down there including my younger brother who opened his apartement in lower Manhattan to help out some survivors – See you soon!

  24. tom paciaffi
    September 15th, 2016 at 13:41 | #24

    had frank pepe’s pizza at Mohegan son. it was terrible, burned on the bottom. maybe his home place is good, but need some QC at mohegan

  25. Barbara Jacobs
    September 15th, 2016 at 17:44 | #25

    That’s why I like the restaurant logo: a perfect combination of the restaurant and the guitar camp.@Ruby Russo

  26. Barbara Jacobs
    September 15th, 2016 at 17:48 | #26

    Ham’neggs ordered two small pies. The small pies are a good size, there were leftovers. The three of us could not polish off all of that pizza!@Greg Martelli

  27. Barbara Jacobs
    September 15th, 2016 at 17:56 | #27

    Check Jorma’s blog posts, during his latest visit to ‘lulu and Maui.
    If you like big pancakes, it’s the place to be.

    Thanks again and always to Jorma: So nice to meet Mr. and Mrs. Ham’neggs.
    In the past decades, I was in the same venues as they were, enjoying the same concerts. We had the best time together, like old friends who have known each other for years. @carey georgas

  28. Carey Georgas
    September 15th, 2016 at 18:15 | #28

    Thank you.@Barbara Jacobs

  29. Barbara Jacobs
    September 15th, 2016 at 19:04 | #29

    Have fun in HI.!@Carey Georgas

  30. johno
    September 16th, 2016 at 12:12 | #30

    When I was in Honolulu last,8 years ago, I remember numerous Vietnamese restaurants. I ate in one that had Saigon in its name. It was really good. Best thing to do is go to the library or bookstore and get a tour book on Hawaii and look up SE Asian restaurants.

  31. Carey Georgas
    September 16th, 2016 at 12:43 | #31


  32. johno
    September 16th, 2016 at 12:56 | #32

    Aloha ‘oe

    @Carey Georgas

  33. Nick L. Eakins
    September 16th, 2016 at 22:29 | #33

    Truth be told, many of the Chinese eateries here in Iowa are owned and operated by Vietnamese people and the Mandarin here in Perry is no exception. They’ve offered Pho there about a year and I’ve learned to love it.

  34. Mike Dooley
    September 16th, 2016 at 23:13 | #34

    A request: come back to Colorado. tuna still runs through my veins. ran ruts through your vinyls growing up in the jersey shore. nothing like a concert though. we need you. le me kno bro

  35. johno
    September 17th, 2016 at 10:02 | #35

    @tom paciaffi
    You know how that goes. You need to go to Wooster Street in New Haven. I sometimes take the ferry out of Port Jefferson just to go to Pepe’s.

  36. September 17th, 2016 at 13:43 | #36

    Pepes has a place in Fairfield ,ate there( the bottom of coal fired pizza should be partly charred), before the Vibes gathering last year Levon played with his Ramble band ,great line up ,Further,Tedeschi Trucks did fine Sly medley.
    Did a meet/greet with Bobby( he was Charred and out to lunch)

  37. Dead Head
    September 17th, 2016 at 16:10 | #37

    @Greg Martelli
    Taking a stab at who is and who is not fried, besides the crust. Bobby……..Weir???? Gathering last year with Levon……..Helm? Levon passed away four and a half years ago. OK, over and out to lunch, impartially charred.

  38. sweetbac
    September 17th, 2016 at 18:47 | #38

    Best soup is down Milpitas ways….couple ticks past Fremont..Edgar Allen Pho….run by some kids from Belgrade of all places…they KNOW they way around some Pho, baby!..gave ’em a copy of “Hoppkorv” for good measure….”watch the North Pho Rise” and all that. Proper soup.

  39. September 18th, 2016 at 10:14 | #39

    It was the year of Levon’s passing,and we are not suffering from apoplexy.