My excursions through Los Angeles have brought new prospective on foods that I had only on the east coast. I have this belief that the closer you are to a foods origin, the more authentic it will taste. I put this theory to the test when with various sushi restaurants that I have sampled including Sugarfish, which was my most memorable.
I decided to test my theory again with pho, one of my favorite comfort foods. Like Jerry Seinfeld I am a soup man, I love soup regardless of the climate or occasion. That said I do tend to have it only when it is cold or I am sick which are the only occasions people want to get pho with me.
(Photo via Yelp)
To date I had a few unsuccessful attempts to gather people into going and trying a pho or ramen place. I finally gathered a worthy individual to try out a pho shop for the first time. I did some small research and found Le Saigon which is off Santa Monica right before you hit the 405. The place received 4 1/2 stars on Yelp so I figured people knew what they are talking about.
We ventured on a cold cloudy Wednesday afternoon which to me was the best time to devour a giant bowl of soup. The LA region had gone through a bit of a cold spell of sub-artic weather in the mid 40's, can you imagine the agony!!
The restaurant space was fairly small and empty but we were there before 7 PM so I wasn't too shocked. I had looked at the menu prior to coming and was salivating at the thought of getting Vietnamese egg rolls which are one of my several culinary kryptonites. Once seated I ordered them before the waiter had a chance to go over the menu.
The egg rolls came out relatively fast and were gone before my friend could ask me what was in them, he also order some per my suggestion. The rolls were fantastic but it did not seem like there was enough of a serving. I had read a couple reviews that attest to the fact that this establishment has small servings but brushed it off because of the high rating.
(Pho Dac Biet)
I followed my appetizer with my main course which was a basic pho with both well cooked and medium beef. Two pipping hot bowls of pho came out right after we had finished out appetizers. I could not wait to dig into it being as though it had been more than a few months since my last experience with it. At first glance the bowl it came in looked small to me as well so these reviewers seemed to have a point. I chalked it off and began my ritual of dousing the bowl in Sriracha, hot paste, and hoisin sauce.
The pho was mediocre at best, the broth wasn't as flavorful as other places I have been to and the beef didn't jump out at me. I was still ecstatic to have it and polished the entire bowl off before my friend was halfway done with his. I left feeling satisfied but not thrilled, it cost about $20 without tip which is way too much from what I am used to, especially when you consider the portion sizes were small as well. Sadly my theory did not play out in this instance but it was only one place so I hope the next pho shop I go to blows this experience out of the water. I'd recommend going if you are close by but it is average at best.