Hangover Helper: Pho With Roast Chili Oil from Pho Sate in Falls Church, VA

Hangover Helper

Just what the doctor ordered.


A bowl of pho at Pho Sate with the accompanying sate sauce. The sate sauce makes all the difference. [Photograph: Brian Oh]

Eden Center in Falls Church, Virginia has no shortage of pho joints, and most will serve a bowl of reasonable quality. But head a little ways from the main shopping centers down Graham Road between Arlington Boulevard and Lee Highway, and you'll find one of the best and most unique pho experiences in Northern Virginia.

In a small, nondescript strip mall sits Pho Sate. True to its name, what makes this particular bowl of pho so special is the sate sauce. While the broth on its own is flavorful and the vegetables and meat are generously portioned, the defining factor here is the eponymous condiment. The sate sauce is a roast chili oil that elevates Pho Sate's pho above other bowls. Pour the small accompanying dish of the sauce in your pho and it immediately lends a potent spicy-smokiness that transforms an otherwise serviceable bowl of pho into a transcendent experience of fiery flavor. It's ideal for days when you need a rich bowl of noodles to soak up the previous evening's activities, with a kick that'll clear your sinuses.

A small bowl is $6.05 and the large is $6.75 (why anyone wouldn't get the large for 70 cents more is beyond me). Start off with the chicken rolls—4 small, flavorful, and not greasy deep fried chicken spring rolls are served for $3. The one catch is that Pho Sate is cash only, which is a minor inconveniences for one of the best bowls of pho you can find in the area.

Pho Sate

2814 Graham Road, Falls Church, VA 22042 (map) 703-698-8088; www.phosate.com