IT'S ALL IN THE FAMILY

A humble shop located in Chinatown, you’ll have to brave the street metered parking or find your way to one of the municipal structures. If the thought of parking alone makes you shake in the knees, don’t worry. It’s really not that bad! Besides, aren’t your taste buds curious about the best pho broth on the island? Fun fact: This restaurant was named after the owner’s mother and father’s last names. Makes sense, right? Hence, the hyphen in Pho To-Chau.

Pho To-Chau
Pho To-Chau storefront off River Street in Chinatown

TIME FOR PHO

Before you even walk into the restaurant, your senses will be overwhelmed by the aromatics of the broth that have been cooking for a minimum of twelve hours. These chefs know what’s up when it comes to making sure the most important component of the pho is solid. The broth is served piping hot and if your pho contains any tai (rare steak), the server will ask if you want your meat inside or outside of your soup. Today, I opted for outside, so I could dunk my little treasures and cook them as I ate. And don’t be fooled by how tiny the regular bowl looks. Although its diameter is only the length of my hand, somehow, the amount of food packed in there is deceptively large.

Pho To-Chau
Pho Tai - Regular ($8.99)

Along with our bowls of pho, we ordered the spring rolls. These deep-fried bad boys come with the most delicious Nước Chấm (fish sauce) and we devoured these. The inside of the rolls are packed with flavor and the pork, crab, shrimp, and mushrooms had my taste buds singing. We had no problem finishing off all six in addition to our bowls of pho.

Pho To-Chau
Spring Rolls ($9): Minced pork, crab, shrimp, and mushrooms - wrapped in rice paper and deep fried

Also worth mentioning about Pho To-Chau is the sheer amount of fresh vegetables and herbs they provide. They do not skimp out! I’m so tired of asking for more vegetables at other pho joints or weeding through almost-rotten basil. They even give you culantro here! That is definitely a sign of legit-ness, along with an entire side cup of jalapenos. I love my pho spicy and I don’t just mean with sriracha. The flavor and heat that comes out of the jalapenos’ seeds once you put them in your broth is fire. Bonus: They leave an entire pitcher of ice water on your table for you. I absolutely dig that. My husband drinks water like a camel and will drink the entire pitcher himself.

Pho To-Chau
Fresh vegetables and herbs for your pho. Super generous and fresh, fresh, fresh!
Pho To-Chau
Lunch Spread: pho dac biet (combination- medium size $9.99), pho tai (rare steak- regular size $8.99), spring rolls ($9), and iced coffee ($4)

If you’re a coffee-lover, I’d also order the Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk. It comes with a little French press and you’ll have to wait a minute until the water filters all the way through the coffee. I recommend you adjust the amount of condensed milk depending on how sweet you like your coffee. If you like it sweet, go ham and use all that it comes with.

Pho To-Chau
Vietnamese Iced Coffee already comes with a full cup of ice in a to-go cup so you can conveniently take it with you after your meal ($4)

IT BOILS DOWN TO THIS...

Pho To-Chau has been open for around 30 years and is cash only. The restaurant is owned and run by a sister and brother who know what they’re doing when it comes to the depth and flavor of the pho broth, undoubtedly the fundamental element. After hunting for the best pho in Hawaii, the decision is in for me. Sure, it’s only open from 9:30 AM – 2:30 PM, but that’s how good they are. Sometimes, I wake up on the weekends craving a damn good bowl of pho; and for that, I will drive into Chinatown.

Pho To-Chau

Pho To-Chau
1007 River Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: 808-533-4549


Hanna Na
Hanna Na

Hanna is no stranger to change, having moved over two dozen times over the course of her life. Through those changes, her love of food has been her only constant. Hanna is a lover of fiery flavors, and believes there's no such thing as "too spicy". When she's not eating her face off, she's teaching middle school English. Check out Hanna's Instagram page @hungryhungryhannana to eat with your eyes or discover some picturesque beaches and hikes.

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