Brown Greens: Pho at Andrews Commons


Hi everyone!  My name is Divya Santhanam and I will be writing for Brown Greens, the column on vegetarian, vegan, and healthy eating at Brown

Living at home for the past eighteen years has made it very easy for me to be a vegetarian. As an Indo-Canadian, my palate of food consists of a wide range of spices, curried vegetables, hot gravies, and comforting rice. My first few months at Brown, left me struggling to structure a diet that would replace my mother’s delectable cooking.

Brown has a large variety of vegetarian options, whether it be the entirely vegetarian section at the Ratty, the salad bar at the Vdub, or the vegetarian only evenings in the Ivy room.  Yet, all of these places were missing an intangible quality that is present in the food I eat at home. Whether it is the undescribable warmth that emanates from the aroma of mixed spices and earthy cilantro, or the comfort present within a bowl of hot rice  and rasam (tomato based gravy soup), food at home is truly special.

I finally found a similar warmth and comfort in the Vietnamese Pho served at Andrews Commons. Inspired by Chef Mai Pham, Andrews Commons is currently making a shift towards serving more global cuisine items. This collaboration has spawned items such as Thai Curry, Asian Grill and Stir Fry, and lastly the aforementioned Pho.

The first time I got Pho, I remember standing in line as  I watched the server boil rice noodles and sprouts. The server then asked me to choose from a large variety of boiled vegetables and spices- from cilantro and coriander to carrots and mushroom. As I watched the server toss in carrots, cabbage, jalapeños, cilantro and tofu into my bowl, I finally felt as if I finally found the dish I was looking for. The server then gave me the choice to choose from vegetable, curry, or chicken based broth. After adding vegetable broth to my mix of colourful vegetables, I proceeded to add sriracha (hot sauce) and fresh lemon to my bowl.  The messy warmth of noodle based soup, the spice of crunchy jalapeños, and added twang of lemon, brought back the essence of my cuisine at home. I was so pleased with my meal, that I decided to do my own Pho art, and add a smiley face to my bowl.

As Andrews expands its global cuisine options, I’m excited to see what new dishes they will offer. In the meantime, you can find me at the pho station. That’s PHO sure!

If you have any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, etc. feel free to comment below or email me at 





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