Deep End Dining Tip: Raw on the Side. Pho Sure!
Filet mignon pho at Pho Saigon 1
When you order that steaming hot bowl of beef pho (or pho bo in Vietnamese), be sure to request your meat slices on the side. If it's a legitimate pho establishment, the server won't look at you funny because plenty of customers likely have made the same adjustment.
Why ask for this? Well, it's simply to avoid overcooking the most delicate cut of meat in the broth. The other bits (if you order them) like tendon or brisket are safe because they've been cooked already and won't be overdone within the dining duration. However, because of the really hot soup, thinly sliced pieces of beef are more vulnerable. If they are plunked in by the cook, then the meat may get a little tough by the time the pho gets to you.
If you're squeamish about raw meat, don't sweat it. Pho broth is supposed to be scalding hot, so if you place your raw meat into the soup in a timely fashion, it will be perfectly cooked and, more importantly, tender by the time you flavor the pho with your various herbs and accoutrement. The result is nice soft slices of meat instead of tough and rubbery. I personally like it a bit pink, therefore I wait until the broth cools a tad then drop in the cow flesh—then it's perfection!
Pho Saigon 1
21701 Devonshire St.