What’s the difference between a middling bowl of pho and a great bowl of pho? Not the noodles, because just about every place around uses the same packaged stuff. Not the meat, because cheap, frozen cuts are the norm. Not the herbage, because good basil can be found at many places. The broth is the thing, and the one here—a slow-simmered elixir with star anise, cinnamon, and ginger—is almost unfailingly full-bodied. Dig the pinprick-like beads of fat floating on the surface. If you have to spritz it with Sriracha and hoisin, okay, but why mess with something so good already?
Where you can find it: 10478 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville; 301-931-8128
Also good: Pho with sliced, well-done steak and fatty brisket; pho with flank steak and tendon; pho with beef meatballs.