pho bolsa - where should i have gone instead?
it happens to me a lot that i'll be in an unfamiliar neighborhood, looking for a bite to eat, driving around and racking my brains for any bit of info i might have read on chowhound.
so i was in little saigon looking for a bowl of pho, and completely lost. randomly chose pho bolsa on magnolia. i usually look for a place that has a fair amount of people inside, and this place did considering the hour.
i got the pho tai, which was pretty unremarkable... the broth was a dark brown color but with no flavor at all. the meat was tough and it didn't help that it was sliced about twice as thick as any other place i've had pho. the herbs on the veggie plate were looking a bit wilted.
i will say that there were two things that set this bowl of pho apart: the portion of meat was larger than anywhere else i've ever seen, especially because of the thickness of the slices of meat. i couldn't finish it. the other thing is the broth did not have a spot of grease on it... i know this is important to some people but i would sacrifice a little grease for a little flavor.
so where should i have gone instead? what matters to me most i suppose is a flavorful broth and good quality meat. if you guys help me out, i promise i'll make a list and print it out to keep in my car..
There's a great pho place at the intersection of McFadden Ave and Brookhurst St in Westminster. (From the 405, Exit Brookhurst St going north, drive about 2 miles - you'll pass Edinger Rd along the way. Right before you hit McFadden Ave, you will see a KFC on the left, its located behind and a little to its right in a stripmall.) Its located in a strip mall behind a KFC (15553 BROOKHURST Westminster, CA 92683). Don't recall the name, but the quality is great, a lot of Vietnamese go there - including my parents who are total Vietnamese food snobs. Additionally there is a great baguette and vietnamese sandwich place in the same strip mall that's open 24 hrs. Its called Cali Sandwich/Teriyaki.
Unfortunately, Pho Bolsa is known for their Pho Ga (chicken pho) as well as pho ap chao (stir fried pho noodles in gravy). Their regular pho isn't that great.
At the corner of Brookhurst and Hazard, you have two of my favorites, Pho Thanh Lich and Pho 79. At Pho Thanh Lich, make sure to get the spcial Tai (it's filet mignon). It's very good!
It's always a toss-up between these two. Nothing makes my mouth water more than the thought of Pho Thanh Lich's filets. But I'm giving the edge to Pho 79 for all-around goodness.
I used to love Pho Bolsa's chicken pho until about a year ago when they changed ownership. Nowadays, I head to Pho Quang Trung for my pho ga fix.
I would totally recommned Quan Hop on McFadden and Brookhurst. The quality of the meat really stands out (they use Filet Mignon) and the broth is excellent. It's the closest I've had to Pho Pasteur in Saigon. They also have a very good Clam Salad and Rice Cakes. My wife actually prefers the Bun Bo Hue there.
I also like it because the decor is nice and the staff is very friendly (sometimes a little slow). We drive down from LA to eat there all the time.