Saturday, June 04, 2005

Perfect Pho,... well as perfect as you can get it

We were hungry at 11pm on a Friday and EVERYTHING in OC was closed except fast food! You gotta love the OC where at the stroke of 10 PM, everything stops. We headed to Little Saigon to Pho Thanh because its open 24/7. We saw some other Pho places open on the way, and agreed that they didn't seem too busy. When we visit Asian restaurants, we usually feel that the busier it is, the better it is. At 11:30pm Pho Thanh must have had 60 people in it!!

Does the perfect Pho place exist? I am beginning to think not. But Pho Thanh in Westmister is the closest thing you will find near perfection. And the reasons it isn't are due to minor things or annoyances. The decor is plain and bright. Mostly Asian diners. Its in a strip mall by Brookhurst and Bolsa. 20 minutes from my house....another annoyance due to the distance. And what is with that construction on the 22?! . But I digress.....

The first thing that is great about this place are the condiments They have all the right ones. Not only do they have the Sriracha Chili Paste in a bottle, but the have the coarser, ground one with garlic in the jar. They also have satay sauce in a jar! The only thing that was missing was the Chinese pepper instead of regular black pepper.

Notice the authentic and complete veggie condiments. Look how they have the Gai (saw leaf) herb. So many places never have this. Since this place must do so much volume, everything is so fresh! The basil was so green and crispy along with everything else. They bring this to you right when you sit down. I like this because you can get to work tearing it up so you can put it torn up in your soup right when it arrives so it has a chance to steep. Too many places bring it with the Pho or (gasp!) even after it arrives!

I ordered the #1 special combination Pho with rare beef, cooked brisket, tendon, tripe. Mrs. Dog had the Chicken Pho. We ordered egg rolls too with 1 coke and 1 iced tea.

First came the Pho. How come so many of these places don't understand what an appetizer is and that it should be brought out first?! My Pho came out right away; before the appetizer! Notice how perfect it is though! Notice how the rare meat is actually rare. Yet the broth is scalding hot! Then tendon is surrounded by gelatinous goodness and lots of green onion. This place BY FAR makes the best Pho. The flavor of the broth is the most complex I have had (and I have tried probably 20 Pho places in OC). Every flavor is so strong, but they all work together. You can taste the ginger a little more than the rest, but I like this. Strong anise, lemongrass, and a slight fish sauce flavor. All with a perfect sweetness to it. Absolutely stunning. Noodles are firm, yet silky. The don't clump together like some places. The meat was so tender and such a treat to have it so rare when its not ordered on the side. The tendon is like eating a melting, chewy morsel that literally melts in your mouth. The tripe is flavorful, crisp and chewy.

Mrs. Dog's chicken was the chicken they pull from the bone. Not like the places that use processed chicken. As a matter of fact some of the bones were still in there. Another small annoyance. A great strong chicken flavor in the broth as well.

Another small annoyance is that the portions are a little small in my opinion. They are not "small", but they are not large. How much more would it cost to toss in a little more broth and noodles? Maybe its because this stuff is so good, I always want more?

You have to pay for water if you ask for it and it comes in tiny bottles (I think 4 oz). A soft drink is $1.00 and comes in a tiny 8 oz glass. NO refills. This is pretty annoying and the only thing I really hate about this place. Its not worth it to be that stingy to your customers.

Next came the egg rolls half way through our Pho meal. Sorry about the bad picture. Notice how much lettuce you get. This is critical as most places always jack you on the lettuce and you never have enough to wrap all the egg rolls with. Also it came with lost of cilantro sprigs. A nice dipping sauce as well. They were not greasy and very light. But not a lot of flavor. I felt it could have used more filling in the inside. I would put these as "average"

Our total bill was $20.00 as I tipped horribly as I don't feel you get any service. They bring everything out to you and then they are DONE with you.

Someday I hope to find a place that is truly "perfect". All the condiments (including Chinese pepper ), great Pho, appetizers out first, big portions, open late, refills on drinks, free water, close to my house. I know, I know....I ask for soooooo much. But until then, this place is the best I have found.

Pho Thanh
9625 Bolsa Ave
Westminster, Ca 92683


Blogger Xericx said...

Odd about the water thing...4 oz? Yikes....

I'll mentally remember this place....navigating through Little Saigon is a bit difficult for the infrequent visitor.

1:18 AM  
Blogger Avatar said...

Try Pho Bolsa. It's in the same place as Bahn Mi And Che Cali, on the corner of Brookhurst and Westminster. Good tendon, good noodles, and good service.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Diamond Dog said...

I have been to Pho Bolsa and actually like that place a lot! I dont think its open that late and that could be its ONLY drawback.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little less known pho place but absolutely is the best: Pho Republic in Anaheim. Beautiful decoration, excellent service, and the pho is heavenly... Check it out!

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pho Tanh Lich on the corner of brookhurst and ... well close to bolsa. From the 22 going towards the 405 down brookhurst, it's on the left hand side. They have great pho, big water glasses and one out of two times they give you this awesome taro/rice ball pudding for free with your pho! It's not open past 11 but my friends used to drive 30 minutes for this stuff.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous nail secrets said...

Pho Hoa opens 24hr. But i don't like it much.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:03 PM  
Blogger James Liu said...

i find their stock overpowering, and their prices high.

I personally find Pho 54 on brookhurst & mcfadden to be my favorite

12:03 PM  
Blogger An #53 said...

Did you try that a new place called Que ME, 10155 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove? It is really good, the service a little bit hectic but the food is delectable, I got their specialty Bun Mam and Nem nuong and Pho...good broth!!!

10:09 PM  
Blogger Whitney said...

I was desparately serching for food place that opens late and ended up your blog. I couldn't be happier that I found this place and the food was great! I was surprise to later found that this posting was written in 2005! This place was as good in 2009 and I just wish you keep on posting!

12:26 AM  

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