Pho Ao Sen

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Some of the best pho in the Bay Area can only be found in the East Bay - Oakland.  Even though, I've lived in San Jose, the largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam, I've never found an amazing bowl of pho.  Pho Ao Sen is one of my regular pho spots and my benchmark for good pho in the Bay Area.  It's a little trek into the not-so-great parts of East Oakland, but it's worth it. 
The fried egg rolls (Cha Gio) are more meaty here than most places.  The standard stuffing of ground pork, shrimp, carrot, taro, onion, noodles, and shiitake mushrooms are wrapped and deep fried to be dipped in the fish sauce mixture (nuoc mam). 
Along with pho and other soups, Pho Ao Sen's menu consists of rice dishes and plates, but they are best known for their soups.  The pho broth is very flavorful (almost magical) and very little additive (sriacha, hoisin, etc) is needed.  I kinda find adding that sauces into a well made pho broth a little sacriligious. 
And, of course, pho MUST be ordered with the raw beef on the side to dip in your steaming hot soup.
Bun Bo Hue is another really popular, well-made soup here.  I like to alternate between this and pho in cold weather (and after a late night out!).  Totally different than pho, bun bo hue is slightly sweet, tangy, and spicy. The noodles are thicker and chewier.  The bun bo hue here is more on the sweet side than spicy. 

Address:                        Pho Ao Sen
                                              1139 E 12th Street
                                               Oakland, CA

Type:                                Vietnamese/casual

Popular chomps:    pho
                                               bun bo hue

Chomp worthy:        pho tai (meat on the side!)
                                               bun bo hue

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