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Jan 9, 2008 04:09 PM

Pho or Vietnamese Sandwiches on the West Side?

I know I'm probably expecting miracles. Yes, I know the good place in Silver Lake that has no name. Yes, I am very excited to try KP in Silver Lake on some evening. Yes, I will be glad to try more Vietnamese places in the SGV.

However, during the day and much of my evening I work in Century City. I've been to Phobulous on La Cienaga, which has OK pho and helped purged my sinuses. I was hoping there was some little pocket of Vietnamese places that I hadn't discovered yet. There are lots of Japanese places along Sawtelle. Is there any Vietnamese OR Thai equivalent on the West Side. You would make one poor, West Side daytimer studio-drone VERY happy.

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  1. Come down to Orange County! The Little Saigon here boasts the largest population of Vietnamese people outside of the world.

    1. You can try Pho 99 on Wilshire. The basics are pretty good, but with higher Westside prices. They have both Pho as well as sandwiches. If you're only looking for Pho, there's also Le Saigon on Santa Monica Blvd.

      Pho 99
      11819 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

      Le Saigon
      11611 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

      1. KP's in Silver Lake has closed. There's new pho place, very bare bones, on Glendale Blvd. about a block down from Gingergrass. They only have "italian" sandwiches though.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Chowpatty

          Chowpatty - What happened to KP?
          We looked for them a couple of months ago and they were gone. Once there was not enough; their sandwiches were very good and the servers and owner were very friendly. Oh, I am so disappointed that they are gone...sometimes the drive to Westminster for a banh mi is just too long.

          1. re: liu

            i talked to KP before he closed down and he said he was looking to get into a whole new line of work. He said that there was no foot traffic at that location and that if he were to re-open it would need to be somewhere that people would stumble in rather than it being a destination place. KP actually has a "KP's Deli" page on myspace so you can find him there if you have more questions.

            1. re: carln

              Thanks, carln!
              Admittedly, that was a "strange" location, but we chased to eat there because the sandwiches were quite good. I get a little sad when these good places close their doors...

              1. re: liu

                i totally agree. KP and his sister were also so nice that i miss visiting with them as much as i miss their sandwiches.

                1. re: carln

                  Well said, carln, and I agree.

        2. The closest Viet population (and Thai for that matter) would probably be the Van Nuys and North Hollywood area. In other words, nothing at all close to Fox or Sony.

          6 Replies
          1. re: SauceSupreme

            Red Moon Cafe, a little Chinese/Vietnamese place in the strip mall at the corner of National and Sawtelle Blvd., in West LA, serves pho: It isn't state of the art pho, but if you can't get to Little Saigon, it will do as a pinchhitter.

            1. re: thericequeen

              Sorry, I don't recommend going to Red Moon Cafe. Not even if you're desperate.

              1. re: thericequeen

                I guess if you were in a pinch, there's also Phoreign on Sawtelle, though I've never been so I can't speak of its quality.

                1. re: thericequeen

                  I'd rather eat at KFC than at Red Moon. Red Moon is atrocious.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Bellyworth also likes Le Saigon for Pho. Leave the plastic at home cause it's cash only.

                  2. re: mungus

                    mungus, thanks for posting about the coffee at Little Saigon. For me, the banh mi experience is about the marriage of the jalapeno with the Vietnamese iced coffee. If one of those is inferior, the experience is "less than."
                    I am not even a coffee drinker, but I just love squelching that pepper burn with the cold, very rich coffee! This is the perfect example of "one plus one equals three!" The total is far greater than the sum of its parts!

                2. Here are some recent experiences. All the westside places we know skimp on the greens, charge too much, and don't offer enough selection, but . . . given the realities of 21st century traffic in LA, they'll have to do:

                  Noodle Planet in Westwood: Quite erratic these days. In the last year or two, it had clearly declined from its best days, and we had a few rather bad meals there but on our last two father-son outings there, PayOrPlay Jr. has ordered pho and both times it has been better than acceptable, dare I say objectively tasty. And on a good day their spring rolls are better than most of the other ones you can get on the westside. Although the sandwich shop is gone they still have the boba stand so they have a lot of entertaining drink choices (pandan and taro smoothies, or the sour plum soda). There are lots of bad days too, so I make no guarantees.) There is another noodle place on the other end of the Village called Mr. Noodle that we have never tried.

                  Pho 99: After a long hiatus we re-visited a couple of months ago, were disappointed. The broth didn't have much character, the meat was skimpy in both the beef and chicken varieties, skimpy herbs as always. Didn't try a banh mi. Price not too bad. But it was clearly better when it was Pho Bac Huynh.

                  Phoreign: by contrast with Pho 99, this was a little better than we were expecting (which, admittedly, wasn't much ). I believe this place is some way a successor to Hanoi which was a block north and across the street, and which was pretty terrible. Combine that unfortunate history with the withering comments this place has received here at Chowhound, plus the signs of assimilated mediocrity in decor and menu, we took a long time to try the place (and only did so one weekend when Blue Marlin had a wait and we had already parked with the valet so we couldn't walk next door to Yashima), and we ofund that all the negatives have a basis in truth but at the end of the day we thought the broths were pretty good. The bun was fine too. The spring rolls were so-so at best. The portions were smaller than usual, which makes the place slightly expensive. I'm not rushing back, but it certainly wasn't awful, unlike . . .

                  Red Moon: We used to go there a lot; over the last few years it declined dramatically and is now on our no-go list. Too bad, since it was the only westside place pretending to serve a full-on Viet menu.

                  Le Saigon: We haven't been in ages, I have no idea why except that it does seem a little claustrophobic. When I did used to go, I never thought it was all that great, although sometimes things tasted a little bit --"fresher" is the word that comes to mind, although that's not quite precise; but not especially flavorful.

                  As a standard of comparison, we made a rare daytrip ointo Orange County over the holidays and ended up making our first visit to Brodard Chateau. Based on the reviews I've read here, it probably stands as a reasonable benchmark for pretty-good, and maybe a little westernized, Viet food, like you'd expect to get in West L.A. PayOrPlay Jr. as usual ordered the pho and we also had spring rolls. The broth was certainly more flavorful, the portion bigger, and herbs more diverse, than any of the places mentioned above, but not by so much, really.. On the other hand, the spring rolls at Brodard were head and shoulders better than any on the westside; I gather they are Brodard's specialty and the pho isn't. (Prices at Brodard Chateau were also westside-ish, which is understandable given the decor of the place.)

                  What we NEED on the Westside (along with a nice Ranch 99 Market of our very own) is a Lee's or a Banh Mi Che Cali, and I would happily pay an extra buck or two or maybe even three per sandwich to compensate them for the higher rents and the cost of shipping decent pate across the county line from Garden Grove. Plus a Van's Bakery next door. But maybe the transition wouldn't work; all those years I yearned for a westside Zankou and when it finally arrived it quickly descended toward mediocrity.

                  Brodard Chateau
                  9100 Trask Ave Garden, Grove, CA

                  Pho 99
                  11819 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                  Le Saigon
                  11611 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                  Noodle Planet
                  1118 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                  2123 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                  Red Moon Cafe
                  11267 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: PayOrPlay

                    A lot of responses here mention Red Moon. I tried it once, and promptly decided I would never return (which is really sad, because I LOVE Vietnamese food and live half a mile away, but how do you ruin lemongrass chicken???) However, none of this matters anymore because I think the place has finally closed. I never noticed construction or closure, but I drove past the other day and the "Red Moon" sign had been replaced by one advertising Korean BBQ. Has anyone else seen this? More importantly, has anyone TRIED it?

                    1. re: PayOrPlay

                      Seems like someone could make a killing opening a great pho joint on the westside. Bonus points if they do Bahn Mi also. The people demand good Pho! I would invest in one. Maybe I should do a kickstarter campaign?

                      There is a good Bahn Mi truck that often stops on the westside ( but the pho on offer is mediocre at best. Pho with tasteless broth is worse than no pho at all.

                      1. re: doc_rockets

                        Try Nong La on Sawtelle. Some might consider their broth bland but I find it clean with a good beefy flavor.

                        1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                          Funny you should say that because after some more googling I found Nong La and I just got back from there! Fantastic Pho. Bahn Mi not bad either. Yes the broth is a little less meaty than more traditional Pho places but very flavorful. Plus they don't use MSG which may be a factor. I am delighted that this place exists.

                          1. re: doc_rockets

                            Their banh mi is solid but the daikon/carrot mixture could use a bit more pickling to punch up the acidity level. Too bad they don't offer a cold cut version with plenty of pate.