No, the two topics above have nothing to do with each other... Faithful readers will know that my blog has gone through various updates and make overs recently, with one of these changes being that you now only see one post at a time. My photo essays were taking too much space, and the pages were getting longer and longer, making it more and more daunting for work-time browsing... Let me know if you like/dislike it!
Another thing that was added mid-March was the Google ads on the side bar. I started this as a way to keep track of how many page views I was getting, and thanks to you all, my dear readers and generous referring sources, my numbers have gone up a lot in the past couple of weeks! Yippe! I wonder if Google is going to come after me if I post what I am going to tell you next... Well, if you no longer see Google ads here, you'll know that they booted me out of their system... Anyway, here's the Google ad mystery.
Since adding Google ads to my blog, Google has been keeping track of how many page views and how many 'clicks' on ads I get per day. I get paid per click, or so I thought... But some days, I get 32 cents per 2 clicks. Other days, I get 5 cents per click. My highest gross was $1.13 for 7 clicks in one day, although I've had days with more than 10 clicks in one day. I only got 74 cents for 10 clicks on one day, even though on a different day, I made $1.05 on 4 clicks. This is all with approximately the same number of page views. Mysterious. If any of you advanced bloggers have any insight, please let me know!
OK, so that was the Google Ads mystery part. Now, onto the grub!
Since I've already told you a little about pho+?, I won't bore you with the basics. I was trying to remember when I had my first bowl of pho+?, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't think of when or where I had that first bowl. My most memorable bowl was the one my wild and crazy Vietnamese friend, Cindy, made in NC. It was a warm bowl of beefy noodles, but it was a bit too beefy and a bit too star-anise-y for pho+? novices. Unfortunately, this bowl was too intense for my best friend (the very advanced Sushido Ikkyu practitioner, the Mogu Mogu) and the Mogu Mogu was seen eating raw octopus before he would touch another bowl of pho+?... I was already at least a mid-ranking pho+? connoisseur at the time, so I must've had my first bowl a lot earlier... Perhaps it was my sister, the Unchipu, in NYC who introduced me to it.
Regardless of what my past pho+? experiences may be, I now love a steamy bowl of pho+? over either the ramen or the udon. This is nearly sacrilege as a Japanese, considering the ramen and the udon are often placed in the top 10 culinary achievements by the Japanese. But to me, pho+? has the best of both the ramen and the udon worlds. Pho+? has that tasty land-animal strength in its soup that udon doesn't have, but lacks the overpowering oil and richness that ruins ramen for me. I can even feel somewhat healthy eating pho+?, since I can add a ton of bean sprouts and herbs. And to top it all off, pho+? (almost) NEVER costs more than $6 and comes to your table almost always within 5 min of ordering. How much better can it get?
My current favorite pho+? place is Pho+? Ao Sen in Oakland. This place has one of the best bowls of pho+? I've ever had. And I've had quite a few now. They have a wonderful - absolutely wonderful - broth of pure beef goodness with no gimmicks - not a hint of artificial sweetness to distract from the strong beef flavor. The noodles are chewy and retain their texture all the way through to the end. This bowl is absolutley worth the drive from almost anywhere in the Bay Area. I have not found a better bowl of pho+? anywhere, even in San Jose...
If you have any suggestions for other pho+? shops, let me know. My friends will vouch for this - I travel for good food!