If you're ever driving down King Street heading into downtown in the morning, you might notice a long line of people standing outside a hole in the wall near the river. My dad always told me, if you're looking for a place to eat, follow the crowds. And the line doesn't lie with To Chau.
To Chau serves up Pho (pronounced fa), or Vietnamese rice noodles in a beef broth. You're served a big bowl of rice noodles in a beef broth, along with servings of meat, cilantro, green onions, and a side of basil, bean sprouts, and lemon that you add to taste. Ask for a "combination" and you'll get a gamut of meats, including slices of round eye steak (the thickest and best tasting I've had in any pho place), beef brisket, meat balls, and tripe. Add your own portions of hoisin sauce and chili sauces and oils to your taste. This is one of the best pho I have ever tasted (the generous servings of meat definitely is a plus). And all this for around $5, depending on the size of your pho.
To Chau does serve soft drinks and coffee here, but if you're like me and like your noodles hot you might want to stick with the water and keep that coming. They also have the traditional appetizers like spring rolls, but a bowl of pho really is enough to fill your stomach.
The restaurant is a bit dark and run down, and there are newer pho restaurants on the same block of Chinatown or very near by, but To Chau still has the best noodles. Like I said, expect a line. To Chau opens early, by about 8:30 a.m to 9 a.m. and it doesn't stay open very long after lunch, as it seems they close down by about 2 or 3 p.m. While you only have a brief window to get some hearty noodles, it's perfect for a morning or lunch time meal.