We have been going to Tan Hoang Huong in Orange (On 3132 E. Chapman) since it opened (about 2 years ago). I have written about it on this baord and have recomended others to go as well.
I would put the Pho there with any of the places in Little Saigon. There is only place that has better tasting Pho and thats the 24hr Pho Place (I think on Bolsa), but the portions are smaller and you have to pay for water and its a drive. We have tried probably 15 Pho places between our house and in Little Saigon and our place in Orange was the #2 for taste, #1 for overall.
I live in the Tustin Hills so our old place is only about a 7 minute drive for me (cut across Crawford Canyon Rd to Chapman). So we would go frequently
I built a relationship with the owners at my Pho place. They knew what I wanted all the time and I got extras on every visit. The broth was so incredible. Richly flavored and complex. Slightly sweet, but in a good way.
I went in there the today and my friend Philip the owner was not there. There was a new guy and I was told that ownership changed. He told me how he has much more experience running a restaurant, blah blah blah.
I slurped some soup and...it tasted different. Bland. Washed out. I kept complaining to my wife (she ordered a vermicelli dish) and she thought I was just imagining it. More slurps. YES this broth is different. I figured that they may have been busy so they watered down the broth to accomdate the late customers. Then the owner drops a bombshell on me. He changed the recipe!!!!!!!!
I dont care how long you boil beef bones. If you have ever had beef stock before any seasoning...its simply bland. Its the seasonings that complete it. Its a necessity.
He said he removed the msg and made it healthier by doing a few things. He confirmed it!!! I LIKE the msg. 95% of the Pho places you guys eat at use MSG and thats the slighly sweet, great flavor you guys all love. If I want healthly, I'll go to the gym. I want my tasty Pho.
This Pho place has been such a part of my life for 2 years. We were in there almost weekly. Its a very sad day for us.
So I am on the hunt for a new place. But I want it to be close to the Tustin Hills as well. Going to UCI area is farther than going to little Saigon. The Pho Good place on Red Hill by Seoul Garden was HORRIBLE. Its run by Koreans. Nothing against Koreans, but I prefer people my ethnic food made by the ethnicity that it represents.
Where should I go now???? I just want it to be relatively close, and a nice flavorful broth (with MSG), good portions. Many places did not offer the authentic condiments Tan Hoang Huong offered (Satay and Gai..which is the spikey green leaf you get with the basil and bean sprouts). Those are important to me as well.
Am I every going to find a replacement place that is close by to the Tustin Hills (even going down to Jeffrey and the 5 is kinda far for a routine restaurant)? Chowhounds, please cheer me up with some good news and tell me it will all be OK.
PS: A lot of you posted about getting the Tai (sliced raw meat) on the side. What you should try is squeezing the lime (must be lime) all over it. Takes about 4 pieces of limes AT LEAST or so. Let it sit and it "cooks" it like Cevice. The flavor is incredible with the lime. Philip at my old Pho place showed me that along with the sliced onions marinated in the vinegar that you sprinkle sugar, hot sauce, and fish sauce on and eat with the cooked meat in your Pho :(