Thursday, April 28, 2011


My intimate relationship with pho began in the winter of 2009.  Shortly thereafter, all of my friends got hooked.  

I began having pho at least 3 times a week.  At least.  That number eventually rose.  It became so pathetic.  I'd order pho from different restaurants all over town so that the people working at the one closest to my house didn't think I was a maniac [for pho], which I was.  

What is pho?

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup usually served with beef or chicken.  The noodles are made from rice and condiments one can add to the broth include thinly sliced onions, lime leaves, basil, bean sprouts, lime and jalapeno.  One can also add hoisin sauce (plum sauce) and/or hot sauce (such as Sri Racha).  I like adding it all.  The broth becomes so flavorful and spicy.  Great on a cold, rainy day...which is actually when I fell in love with this dish.  It was a cold winter's day in LA.  I think the temperature outside was 53 degrees.  Brr.  I kid.

Nothing like some chicken pho...

I pretty much have tried all of the pho restaurants between Beverly Hills to Koreatown.  And boy, do they have some interesting store names.  And I say interesting because "pho" is pronounced by natives in Vietnam as "fuh."  Yet these store names set their customers up for failure because look at the following restaurants! 

9021Pho (you would definitely NOT say 9021-fuh) - The most well decorated of the pho restaurants. The pho here is good...not great like it is at Pho 36.  And it's pricier than most places.  But it keeps me happy!

Pho Citi - They're open 24 hours and the pho here is just ok.  It's hard to mess up pho, though.

UnPhoGettable - On my list of places to go. 

Absolutely PhobulousNot that great.  And they had a prominently displayed B rating in the window.  When I saw it, I almost choked.  Ambience is crap.

What The Pho (for real, there's a restaurant with this name!) - Closed.

Simply Pho You - I really like this place, although there's no ambience.  If fluorescent lighting overhead doesn't bother you while you dine, this is your spot!

Pho 36 - My favorite pho place.  The noodles are the perfect thickness and the chicken is delicious.  Everything is amazing (except for the ambience) including the price.  Even though it's really far from my house, anytime I'm in that area, I obviously stop in.

With these restaurants clearly rhyming "pho" with the english sound of "OH," it's no wonder everyone thinks they're supposed to pronounce pho as "pho!"  So when I order my Chicken Pho, I can sometimes feel the disgust of the employees as they frown and read the order back to me; "One chicken FUH."  Now I just say PHO very loudly and confidently and hope they don't spit in my broth.

I haven't tried the following places, but I find it funny that these restauranteurs spent absolutely NO time thinking up a name for their restaurants.  

Pho 2000
Pho 21
Pho 4000

Pho 79
Pho 88
New Pho 999

I'm still not sick of pho, so if you have a favorite pho place, please let me know!  I would love to try a new place. 

If I had a pho restaurant, I might be silly and name it Mo Pho.  As in "more" pho.  But people would take it the wrong way.