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Explorations on Brookhurst: Pho Thanh Lich, Westminster

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Little Saigon owed me a debt. After the disastrous meal at New Trieu Chau, they owed me a big debt of good food.

I've still got the coughing plague. It drives me crazy, because it's fine as long as something is going down my throat, but I have no appetite, so I end up sipping on tea or water all day and eating almost nothing.

Well, on Sunday, I decided I wanted some nourishment, so I headed down to Pho Thanh Lich, on the SE corner of Brookhurst and Hazard (same plaza as Pagolac, if that gives you a point of reference).

I ordered the "pho tai dac biet" -- that's the house special tai, made with filet mignon. Get it on the side, so you can dip it and cook it rare. The broth, though a bit salty, is rich and is obviously made properly -- that is, slowly. It has great mouth feel. The noodles were perfectly cooked. They even used the right kind of bowl, so that the broth is still warm at the end.

My only complaint is that I wanted some ngo gai (I don't know what you call this in English -- sawleaf herb?) and they didn't have any.

My wife got a big bowl of bun cha gio thit nuong, vermicelli with spring rolls and grilled pork. It was an enormous bowl -- a huge bowl. She pronounced it very good and proceeded to polish it off, which told me it really was good.

I had a cup of ca phe sua da (iced coffee with condensed milk) which was made for me -- I'm used to having the filter in front of me -- but it was very good, and again, a large glass.

Total including tip was $16.

This and Pho 79 across the street are always my answers to any "best pho in Little Saigon" question, and you can see why. Theoretically there's a branch on Anaheim Street in the LBC, but I've never gone.

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Pho Thanh Lich
14500 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

Pho Thanh Lich
1036 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90813

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  1. Yeah, New Trieu Chau is subpar in comparison to the o.g. Trieu Chau. I don't think they are affiliated since I guess you can't make claim to a restaurant named after a Chinese province.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, DU. PTL is definitely my favorite pho in SoCal, but it's so freakin' far away. I'm also quite non-Vietnamese in that I enjoy pho as late night faire, and often stopped in for dinner on my way back from Irvine in the effor to wait for 405 and 22 traffic to die down.

      I also like their pho ga since they offer basically a quartered chicken, keel bone, skin and all.

      1. I always pass by the one in LBC but I've never been. I'll stop by and give an update.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kek is khmer

          The one in Long Beach is closed. Tried going yesterday but all the lights were off. When I think about it, I don't remember the lights ever being on. Then again, they might be open only for lunch.

          1. re: kek is khmer

            I only go during lunch. Many of the smaller restaurants in Long Beach close early, that is the biggest bummer.

        2. Pho Thanh Lich on Brookhurst is my favorite too! Most Pho restaurants carry ngo gai (it is Sawleaf Herb, you're right) along with the basil, jalapenos, limes and bean sprouts. Sometimes when they get to the supermarket either the basil or ngo gai aren't really fresh, so they don't have any for that day. It kinda sucks, but it's better then giving out substandard, wilted herbs.

          Other things that I like to get with the Pho (usually free, though some restaurants are charging nominal fees for these extras), are hanh dam and nuoc beo. The first is thinly sliced onions soaked in vinegar/sugar to cut the bite out of the onions. You can eat these on the side with a dip of sriracha, or just put some in your bowl of pho for some extra onion goodness. The second is a small bowl of the broth at the top of the pot, which contains a bit more oil, and they float a few green onion bulbs in there too. You pour a couple spoonfulls of this nuoc beo (translated: fatty water) into your own bowl of Pho, and enjoy the richness of that little bit of extra oil.

          YUM!

          1. how does pho thanh lich compare with the top places in the SGV (golden deli, pho 79 on garfield, etc.) little saigon is typically too far to drive for a bowl of pho, but on a lark, i might be willing to do it just for the sake of comparison.