For a very long time I've thought that the Viet food in Los Angeles was lacking. There are places like Golden Deli (my sister is a regular) and Mr. Baguette for banh mi sandwiches. But pho noodle soup restaurants — which in recent years have spread to Koreatown, hipster Silverlake and even to sterile West Los Angeles — has never been great in Los Angeles. Dull broth, over cooked noodles make you want to squirt a mess of Sriracha or lime juice into the bowl to cover up the various culinary transgressions. But the days of bad pho may be numbered.
Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer-prize-winning food journalist of the LA Weekly (I date myself by asking if any of you recall Gold's fantastic "Counter Intelligence" column in the LA Times?), just wrote about a bevy of new pho joints in El Monte. For those of you who don't know where that is, it's on the outskirts of the Asian epicenter of the San Gabriel Valley, which is east of downtown Los Angeles. Vietnamese business people always know to set up shop and compete where rents are low and diners are hungry. It's not chic nor pretty, it's El Monte.
If you live in Los Angeles, head east on the 10 freeway to Garvey Avenue after you read this piece:
- Pho Town: Noodle Stories From South El Monte (LA Weekly, 12/11/08)
Also, check out Anne Fishbein's slideshow of pho bowls. Note the metal bowl that some of the pho is served in. That's new . . . What gives?