It’s a universally accepted fact that when it comes to food, moms knows best. After all, nobody can cook that certain dish quite like mom, and—fair or not—we will always compare new interpretations to mom’s secret recipes. So imagine my surprise when a Vietnamese friend told me that she went out for pho with her mother—a pho master—and the matriarch came away “quite impressed.”

After hearing this, I knew I would have to check it out for myself. This search for mom-approved pho led me to Pho Dao, located in a nondescript strip mall in north San Jose.

Upon entry, it’s easy to see that Pho Dao is different from other joints, as the elegant blue and white décor, spotless interior and smell of simmering broth welcomes guests and whets the appetite. The neatly uniformed staff is friendly, another departure from the gruff service found at a preponderance of pho houses. The straightforward menu consists mostly of soups, but they’ve recently expanded it to include a few noodle and rice dishes since opening four months ago.

I decided to order Pho Dao’s claim-to-fame, the “Kobe-style” beef Pho ($11.75/Large). Pho Dao also offers a choice of noodles: standard dried, fresh or egg. Normally I’m a sucker for fresh, but I decided to buck tradition and go with egg noodles. I also noticed my beloved salted plum soda ($3) was not on the menu. But after speaking with the waiter, it turns out they have it—it’s just not listed. I have to say that Pho Dao’s salted plum soda might be one of my favorite renditions. For those unfamiliar, it’s a combination of club soda, preserved plums and just a touch of sugar that produces a refreshingly sweet, salty and sour drink.

When the pho came out, one look told me the broth was legit. The color was a dark brown and had a nice oily sheen, and the smell was incredible. After one slurp I knew what Mama was talking about: beefy, sweet, salty and just the right balance of spices. The word “umami” definitely came to mind.

As for the Kobe beef, while tender and tasty, it wasn’t worth the slight up-charge. However, the egg noodles didn’t disappoint, as they were plentiful and diviine when combined with the broth. It’s rare that I slurp up every ounce of broth in the bowl, but this one demanded it.

In a city that isn’t exactly hurting for soup joints, Pho Dao has quickly earned a reputation for its stellar service and killer broth. Perhaps even more telling, it has mom’s seal of approval.

Pho Dao  1631 N Capital Ave, San Jose 408.251.1917