Broke-Ass Foodie: Pho Clement 2

We try to spend as little time as possible under fluorescents, which is why we were heartened by news that a favorite (if ill-lit) pho place, Pho Clement, added a second location on Geary, sans harsh, flickering lights.

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Even pho looks better in soft light. There are two dozen numbered combinations here (this is the medium-size #10, Nam Ve Don, well-done flank steak, $7.50), or you can customize with other meats. Besides the usual plate heaped with bean sprouts, Thai basil, sawtooth herb, chiles, and lime, you can amp things up via a forest of condiments: sriracha, hoisin, soy, chile oil, sesame oil, and vinegar.

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One of our favorites among the many appetizers: fried shrimp cakes ($7.25) encased in thin tofu wrappers, with fresh vegetables and a tangy vinegar dipping sauce.

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A roll-your-own platter: in this case, grilled marinated pork (banh hoi thit nuong, $12.25), with rice-paper wrappers, vermicelli noodle nests, and a heap o' lettuces, herbs, and chopped vegetables.
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First you position the noodles (topped with minced scallions and chopped peanuts), heap on herbs, meat, and so on, then roll into burrito shape. Yum.
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Bigger and classier than the original location, with comfortable chairs and over 150 tasty, inexpensive dishes to choose from.

Pho Clement 2 5423 Geary (at 19th Ave.), 876-2828. Open daily, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

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Photos by Janine Kahn
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