Vietnamese in Oakland/East 12th?
- Ruth Lafler
Driving down East 12th from Lake Merritt to 22nd Ave. today I was reminded again of the explosion of Vietnamese businesses in that area (which seems to be officially called "Eastlake Business District" but which I've only heard called "New Chinatown").
Does anyone know anything about the myriad Vietnamese eateries along that strip?
Not on E. 12th, but at the corner of 2nd Ave and E. 14th, is Pho AoSen. This small square building for years housed the much-loved Caravelle, voted by 2CHG as having the finest broth of any local pho house. We cringed when we saw the remodeling in progress, believing of course that better premises means poorer food. Not to worry.
On our first visit, we all tried pho, of course. Our general preference has developed as heavier broth for breakfast, lighter broth for lunch. This broth was golden clear, light and tasty, with very little floating grease. The noodles were accessible, not too knotted up, and chewy enough to be interesting. The meats were all OK, except the lean beef which was maybe a tad not rare enough, but the tasty brisket compensated. The usual condiments, with plenty of jalapenos and plenty of lime. Instead of basil we got a plant with long skinny saw-tooth-edged leaves, which tasted vaguely like cilantro. No problem.
Next trip we check out the rice plates. The menu originally had a selection of noodle dishes, and some "beef steak" choices, but these had been crossed out. Still, for the pho alone, this place is up in the Pho Hoa Binh league, and the pho alone is a good enough reason to go.
Rating: Four soup bowls