At Sidestreet Pho — a sleek, modern restaurant located, yes, on a side street in Alameda — you’ll find funky flavors and out-of-the-way ingredients that aren’t uncommon at the long stretch of divey pho joints on Oakland’s International Boulevard, but often get omitted at upscale Vietnamese restaurants. Here, atmosphere doesn’t come at the expense of authenticity. You can taste the care that goes into the restaurant’s namesake dish — the complex, delicate beef broth has a savoriness born of many bones cooked for many, many hours. And beyond pho, Sidestreet is a great place to try other street food specialties: broken-rice combo plates; banh mi bo ko (a hearty beef stew, served with soft bread for dunking); and nuggets of turmeric-marinated basa fish, wok-charred dill, and rice vermicelli, all mixed together with a pungent fermented shrimp dressing — Hanoi’s answer to Korean bibimbap.

— Luke Tsai


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