Just Add Broth

Behold, the Phoritto

Inside Conservatory is this dinner-only treat imported from California.

By Timothy Malcolm August 15, 2018

Just dip, baby. 

Back in 2014, Erwin Tjahyadi of Komodo Restaurant, a Los Angeles kitchen that specializes in the fusion of classic Asian and Californian dishes, created the phoritto. It is as its portmanteau leads you to believe: ribeye, vermicelli noodles, onion, jalapeno, ginger, bean sprouts, cilantro, sriracha, and hoisin sauce rolled into a flour tortilla.

It's an ingenious creation, a fusion of essential street foods from Southern Vietnam and Southern California, and perfect for a part of the world where pho and burritos are practically currency. It was a runaway hit.

The phoritto has been in Houston, popping up randomly in a few Vietnamese eateries. Pho Town out near Willowbrook carries one. Pho Line, which was out west by Highway 6, had a phoritto but closed down in spring 2017. And then there's Conservatory's Pho Spot.

The second-generation walk-up counter in the downtown food hall has already been lauded for its titular dish, featuring a fragrant, textured broth. But once the clock strikes 5 p.m., dinner is served, and on the menu is that popular California import.

The Pho Spot's phoritto is thin-sliced beef brisket with bean sprouts, white onions, green onions, vermicelli noodles, cilantro, basil, a little sriracha and a generous slathering of hoisin, all inside a flour tortilla. And as a bonus, you get a drinkable plastic container of pho broth—with white and green onions–in which you dip your phoritto.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Why? It's the same question some businessman asked with his eyes as he walked past my phoritto. I'll tell you why: Houston. There's so much pho here that you can drink it out of the air (though I wouldn't advise), and while we've seen a few variations, few places have packaged it in a way that reflects the city's penchant for combining cultures, merging traditions, and celebrating the beauty that comes from chaos. The phoritto does just that.

Now, maybe a burrito isn't the right vessel for Houston (anyone know of a pho taco?), but this is a fun experience, and since it's Pho Spot, it's delicious, especially when enhanced by chili oil. And hey, if you don't like the burrito concept, you can always just ditch the tortilla and drop the ingredients in the broth. It's your fusion. 

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