Exploring the Art of Pho: A Journey with Chef King and Home Cook Gabby

Pho is a beloved Vietnamese dish that is known for its flavorful broth, tender noodles, and delightful toppings. In this culinary adventure, we follow the journey of Chef King, a professional chef, and Gabby, a home cook, as they create their own versions of this iconic dish. Armed with different ingredients and techniques, they set out to showcase their culinary prowess and love for the art of cooking.

Exploring the Art of Pho: A Journey with Chef King and Home Cook Gabby
Exploring the Art of Pho: A Journey with Chef King and Home Cook Gabby

The Challenge: $135 vs $17 Pho

With a budget of $135, Chef King gathers a selection of premium ingredients, including spiced beef stock, brisket, wagyu ribeye, rice noodles, Thai basil, cilantro, and jalapeno. His recipe is a masterpiece, a combination of exquisite flavors and textures. Meanwhile, Gabby takes a more budget-friendly approach with her $17 version. Her ingredients include bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, rice noodles, veg stock, tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), and a few other carefully selected items.

Crafting the Broth: A Labor of Love

The broth is the backbone of any pho, and both Chef King and Gabby understand the importance of creating a rich and flavorful base. Chef King begins with beef bones, roasting them slowly to extract the maximum flavor. He adds aromatic spices like star anise, cinnamon sticks, and black peppercorns, along with onions, garlic, and ginger. The broth simmers for hours, resulting in a savory and fragrant liquid that is the heart of his pho.

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On the other hand, Gabby takes a vegetarian approach. She fortifies store-bought vegetable stock with roasted vegetables such as onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms. This veg-forward broth offers a delightful alternative, packed with umami flavors.

The Protein: From Wagyu to Veggies

Chef King’s pho features succulent meats like wagyu ribeye, brisket, and tripe. The wagyu ribeye, known for its marbling and tender texture, is seared to perfection and added to the final dish. The brisket and tripe are slow-cooked in the broth, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

Gabby’s vegetarian version showcases bok choy and shiitake mushrooms as the stars of the show. These ingredients are seared to release their flavors and add a delightful earthiness to the pho.

Noodles and Toppings: Completing the Picture

No pho is complete without rice noodles and a variety of toppings. Chef King opts for thin rice noodles, which he parboils and sets aside. His toppings include scallions, Thai basil, cilantro, jalapeno, lime, hoisin sauce, sambal chili paste, and fresh bean sprouts. These ingredients add vibrant colors, refreshing flavors, and a touch of heat to his dish.

Gabby follows suit with rice noodles, which she soaks in hot water until they reach the desired texture. Her toppings include bean sprouts, sliced onions, jalapenos, green onions, cilantro, and lime wedges. These elements create a harmonious balance and elevate the overall experience of her pho.

Bringing It Together: A Feast for the Senses

With their ingredients prepped and their broths simmering, Chef King and Gabby are ready to assemble their pho bowls. Chef King starts by ladling his fragrant, collagen-rich broth into the bowls. He adds the noodles, followed by the sliced meats and toppings. The final touch is a drizzle of hoisin sauce and sambal chili paste.

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Gabby takes a similar approach, layering her bowls with noodles, vegetables, and toppings. The result is a beautiful and satisfying vegan pho that is sure to please the palate.


Pho is more than just a soup—it’s an art form that reflects the creativity and passion of its creators. Whether it’s the intricate flavors of Chef King’s $135 pho or the budget-friendly simplicity of Gabby’s $17 version, both dishes showcase the versatility and appeal of this beloved Vietnamese dish.

So, next time you find yourself craving pho, consider trying your hand at making it yourself. Be inspired by the creativity and expertise of Chef King and Gabby, and unleash your culinary skills in the realm of pho. With a little patience, love, and the right ingredients, you too can create a masterpiece that will delight your taste buds and leave you craving more.


Q: Can I make pho without meat?
A: Absolutely! Just like Gabby’s veg-forward approach, you can create a delicious and satisfying vegetarian or vegan pho using a variety of plant-based ingredients. Experiment with roasted veggies, mushrooms, tofu, or seitan for a flavorful and hearty broth.

Q: Can I use different types of noodles in my pho?
A: Definitely! While rice noodles are the traditional choice for pho, you can explore other options such as wheat noodles or even zucchini noodles for a healthier twist. The choice is yours—you can customize your pho experience to suit your taste and dietary preferences.

Q: Are there any alternative toppings I can use in pho?
A: Pho is incredibly versatile when it comes to toppings. In addition to the classic choices like bean sprouts, herbs, and lime wedges, you can add sliced jalapenos, radishes, Thai basil, mint leaves, or even crispy fried shallots for extra texture and flavor.

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Pho is an incredible culinary journey, filled with endless possibilities and opportunities for creativity. Whether you prefer a luxurious version with premium ingredients or a budget-friendly plant-based alternative, there is a pho recipe to suit every taste and preference. So put on your chef’s hat, gather your ingredients, and embark on a flavorful adventure with pho. And remember, every bowl tells a story—the story of your own creativity and passion for the art of cooking.

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