I alone can defeat the Phozilla

I am ready to conquer the $79 bowl of pho from Gao Viet Kitchen in San Mateo, California.

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Photo: JIJI PRESS / AFP (Getty Images), MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP (Getty Images)

All epic tales start with a quest. The hero may resist at first, but she is duty-bound—nay, destiny-bound—to accept it. I am here to announce that I have finally found my own quest: to conquer Phozilla, a $79 noodle bowl recently featured in Eater San Francisco.

Eater SF chatted with Viet Nguyen, the chef and owner at Gao Viet Kitchen in San Mateo, California, to gain some insight into the heaping bowl—which includes a whole Maine lobster, beef rib, oxtail, filet mignon, brisket, and bone marrow. Nguyen told Eater he was inspired to create the dish after seeing other restaurants gaining traction from show-stopping “Instagrammable” dishes. “I watch a lot of Food Network so I get inspiration from people who do a $100 taco and a $100 banh mi and a $100 bowl of pho,” Nguyen said. “So I was thinking I wanted to do my own, but I just do not have the heart to charge people $100 so instead I just charge $79—which nobody should be paying $79 for a bowl of pho but it actually costs me $50 [to make].”

That $50 price point makes sense when you consider the amount of labor that goes into the dish, as well as the staggering quantity of high-quality meat in a single bowl (and the fact that it’s intended to be shared, which I intend to ignore). Nguyen told Eater that the pho’s beef bone broth simmers for anywhere from 24 to 36 hours, which I imagine pairs beautifully with the 1.5-pound whole Maine lobster on top. Nguyen also makes every single bowl of Phozilla himself. “Only I make that bowl of pho, so when we get too busy, I cannot even make it anymore,” he said. “But it’s a bowl of fun.” I am ready, chef. I am ready for the bowl of fun.