So I was just home for the 4th of July from NY and continued my trek to eat at all the great viet places in Little Saigon. I originally planned to hit 3 places this time as my time was somewhat limited b/c I had alot of plans with friends. I ended up only hitting two, but that's because I like Pho Thanh Lich enough to hit it twice (had to take my mom the second time). I forgot my camera in NY, so no pics unfortunately.
So here's what I ate:
Pho Thanh Lich (14500 Brookhurst St): this place is right on the corner of Brookhurst and Hazard, it looks like it was probably some sort of denny's or something before (it looks like that Spire's that is a block away or so). The inside is fairly plain just a bunch of tables with no real decor to speak of although its not the biggest dump I've been to in Little Saigon. The first time I went was on thursday for lunch and it was pretty dead as I got there pretty early like 10:45 and there was only a few other people in there. The second time I went it was jammed packed (sunday after the 4th of July) and I had to wait for like 20 mins to get a table.
- Pho Tai: the first time I went I got the this...it looks like 3rd time was a charm trying to find a very good pho place in Little Saigon (tried Pho 79 and Pho Kim My the last two times). To me the greatest part of pho is a good broth, at Pho Thanh Lich, the broth had that great deep flavor of beef that I was looking for and tasted great with the condiments (scallions, cilantro, bean sprout etc). The broth was also not nearly as greasy / heavy as the broth at Pho 79 nor did have the very strong star anise flavor that Pho 79 had and it wasn't nearly as salty and didn't have too much MSG like Pho Kim My. The beef itself was good quality, tender and tasted great. The noodles were good although no discernable difference from Pho 79 or Pho Kim My. This was really good and Pho Thanh Lich is my new spot for beef pho (unless someone tells me somewhere better).
- Pho Gai Dui: the second time I decided to try their pho ga (chicken pho), they had one with chicken thigh only and that is what I got. The broth was different and obviously tasted much more like chicken (chicken broth), but the soup broth is more yellow and little clearer than the pho tai I had. I liked the broth alot, again it wasn't too salty and had a great chicken flavor to it. The chicken itself was served with skin and bone still attached, which is sort of a pain to eat, but retains better flavor and is more tender that way. They also give you this sauce that is a sort of light chili sauce that you dip the chicken in (its very good). Overall, I liked it alot although I think i'm partial to beef over chicken pho
- Cha Gio (fried spring roll): I ordered these when I came with my mom as a starter. They are different than most cha gio that I've had in that the wrappers instead of being that sorta of bubbly wrapper was a smooth wrapper (think of those chinese take out egg roll wrappers). They were lighter than most cha gio, but other than that and the wrapper the filling was pretty standard. I liked them although I think that I prefer the bubbly wrapper, but i'd definitely order them again.
- Che Thai: they give you this for free at the end of the meal, it was alright, i've definitely had better che, but it was free so what the hell
- Soda Chanh: this was good, I love soda chanh (fizzling lemonade) and their version was pretty good, not too much sugar at the bottom and was generally a refreshing drink
Bun Bo Hue So 1 (15450 Brookhurst St): The restaurant is just another run down viet restaurant in another non-descript strip mall off Brookhurst. I went there at lunch time and it was fairly busy, seems like alot of people taking a lunch break from work.
- Bun Bo Hue: I've never had this dish before. It's a beef noodle soup using white rice noodles that are thicker than pho noodles and the broth is a beef broth that has lemongrass and chilis. It also had slices of beef, pig blood and I believe pig knuckles in it as well. It came with condiments like beat sprouts, lime, cilantro, raw onions and something I had to look up, which turned out to be thinly sliced banana blossoms. The broth itself was much lighter than I was expecting, you could definitely taste the lemon grass and although it was spicy I thought the broth was lacking of a good distinct flavor, was a bit bland to me (not in the sense that it was watery or something, but it just lacked great flavor), I had to put alot of chili oil / paste in it. The beef was ok, a little dry. The other stuff (pig blood, knuckles etc) was sort of whatever as well. Overall, I reminded me of a not as good version of niu rou mian (chinese beef noodle soup), which I much prefer...funny enough I was debating whether I should go here or drive to irvine and get niu rou mian at A&J
- Soda Chanh: their soda chanh had too much sugar and too much ice (i finished it in like 1 min)
Overall, I thought Bun Bo Hue So 1 was disappointing, I'm not sure whether they just don't make great bun bo hue or whether I just don't like the dish that much. Although I am somewhat biased as I immediately made comparison to niu rou mian, which i love (i need to go to taiwan soon)