Chef Eric Banh, of Seattle's Ba Bar and Monsoon, offers this argument on his restaurant's blog for the $10 bowl of pho, writing in response to what he calls the most common customer complaint at Ba Bar: "Ten dollars?! For a bowl of pho? I can get this down the street for only five bucks! What a ripoff!"
Banh, whose restaurants sell an average 120 bowls of pho per day in the winter, breaks down the per-bowl cost ingredient by ingredient, from the meat within (check out the visual difference between Ba Bar's Painted Hills beef versus discount beef) to the marrow bones that make up the broth. Ultimately, Banh writes, "there's no way you can use quality ingredients in a dish that requires this much labor and get away with only charging five dollars unless you are cutting corners somewhere." Also: Banh finishes his pho's broth with a dash of MSG. Get over it — as Banh says, "it's not really evil."