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Pho Le Loi

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Pho Le Loi reopened under new ownership last Monday, and, over the course of multiple visits on my part (4), it is apparent that the word of mouth is spreading rapidly in the local Vietnamese community...

The Deal: A family-owned and staffed establishment which features a well-edited roster of Central and Northern Vietnamese classics like turmeric-flavoured fish fillets with onion and dill (cha ca thang long), rice vermicelli with sliced pork and pork patties in a warm dressing (bun cha ha hoi), spicy Hue-style noodle soup with pork hock, sliced beef shin, and housemade steamed pork loaf (bun bo hue), and rice noodle soup with chicken (pho ga).

The Score: As mentioned above, I've made several visits now, with repeated samplings each time, and the clear standouts on the menu are the turmeric-seasoned fish fillets (cha ca thang long) and the rice vermicelli with grilled/sliced pork and pork patties in a warm dressing (bun cha ha hoi). Have you tried the much-ballyhooed turmeric-flavoured fish dish at Viet Soy Cafe? Well, now you can see how it is really done... arriving at table spitting and sputtering on a cast iron pan. Are you familiar with the iconic version of bun cha ha noi at Garden Grove's Binh Minh? Well, Pho Le Loi took that as their point of departure, and I dare say they've bested it. <smile>

Anyway, here is my Flickr set:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/22982768...

Check it out.

Pho Le Loi
107 Valley Blvd.
San Gabriel

E.M.

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  1. Thanks for the rec. I am glad that I was able to get into your flickr!! Nice pics. Have you tasted the Pho Tai?

    4 Replies
    1. re: WildSwede

      Sorry, WildSwede. At present, pho ga is the only type of pho on offer at Pho Le Loi.

      Here is the most up-to-date/complete list of menu offerings:

      1. Cha Ca Thang Long (Turmeric-Flavoured Fish Fillets w/ Dill)
      2. Bun Bo Hue (Hue-Style Noodle Soup w/ Pork Hock & Sliced Beef)
      3. Bun Cha Ca Thi La (Rice Noodle Soup w/ Housemade Fish Cakes)
      4. Pho Ga (Rice Noodle Soup w/ Chicken)
      5. Banh Tom (Shrimp/Yam Fritters)
      6. Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio (Rice Noodles w/ BBQ Pork & Egg Rolls)
      7. Bun Cha Ha Noi (Rice Noodles w/ Grilled Pork Patties/"Bacon")
      8. Com Ga Hai Nam (Viet-style "Hainan Chicken")
      9. Cha Gio (Fried Egg Rolls)
      10. Com Suong Nuong (Rice Plate w/ Pork Chop)
      11. Com Thit Nuong (Rice Plate w/ BBQ Pork)

      FWIW, I was told by a member of the family which owns Pho Le Loi that the pho ga is already a big draw. Me, I haven't tried it yet but there's no hurry, either. I know that the soup broth is the same as that served with the Com Ga Hai Nam, and, well, I wasn't so impressed with my sample. It was an all natural conconction, for sure, but it seemed over-extracted. Dim.

      Regards,
      E.M.

      1. re: Erik M

        Just wanted to update Erik's introduction:

        new item:
        Hu Tieu/Banh Mi Bo Kho (Vietnamese beef stew with noodles or banh mi, also served (tho cheaply) at Che Cali, etc.)

        The pho ga is darn good. a bit salty, much like ASA's ramen, but it's almost a must considering the complete lack of MSG content. And the sauce that comes w/ the pho ga (same sauce as the com ga hai nam) is just better than any Cantonese Hainan chicken due to light use of fish sauce. Lovely rendition of sliced boneless dark meat perfectly heated by the broth. personally like it better than the bun bo hue...

        Johnny mentioned he was the manager of the old Le Loi hence the pho ga's quality makes absolutely sense. we'll be returning to round off the rest of the menu later this week(end).

        1. re: TonyC

          "[N]ew item: Hu Tieu/Banh Mi Bo Kho [...]"

          Glad to hear it. I'm dying to find a replacement for my beloved versions at Chicago's Pho Xe Tang and Cafe Lao. To date, I've only tried one version here in L.A., i.e., the ersatz Trieu Chau version at Chinatown's Mien Nghia, and, my god, was it bad. Chef Boyardee-type isht.

          E.M.

        2. re: Erik M

          Went there for lunch. Thought the Cha Ca was pretty good. Could have used a little more dill though. The Egg Rolls were OK. It is hard to beat Saigon Flavor, which is across the street. I really want to try the Bun Cha Ha Noi, which I've had a hard time finding in the SGV.

          I will say that the service was good and waiter was very nice. The menu is very limited (they do only have 11 items). I love Cha Ca so this will be a nice addition to our list of VN restaurants.

      2. My old benchmark for cha ca thanh long and bun cha ha noi was Hanoi Restaurant in little saigon.

        Anybody able to make a comparison? I hear (hanoi) is under new management now however...

        1. Had the kitchen staff / chef changed as well since it has gone under new management? I paid Pho Le Loi a visit when it first opened after reading the sign saying "pho ga" and was very impressed with their chicken pho. I have gone back/placed take-out orders on 3 different occasions after my initial visit because I liked the pho ga so much, only to find the quality seemed to be rather inconsistent. :( There was a time when my boyfriend placed a take-out order which they had forgotten our lime & bean sprouts.. The broth did not taste the same when compared to my first visit, it has gotten to be wayy too salty & MSG-ish.. :( I've tried the Hainan Chicken Rice, which weren't that great (For that, I'd recommend Dong Nguyen on Valley Blvd in San Gabriel), but I did like the papaya salad that I had gotten on my first visit.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ms.sunshine

            waiting for Erik to chip in...

            Ms. Sunshine, per manager's vow: there is no MSG in the new rendition of pho ga @ Le Loi. This is current info as of the "newly" re-opened new restaurant ~ 2 wks ago. He'll attest to this with a written & signed statement if you ask. Not that there's anything wrong with a dab of MSG in pho.

            Either way, pho ga is no longer the house special, tho everyone still orders it. It's still on the restaurant signs, but PLL is no longer a 1 trick pony. I personally welcome the terse menu; jack of all trades, master of none. No one ever complained about So Kong Dong because they only served soon doo bo.

            1. re: TonyC

              Hey, I'm coming from Chicago, Tony, where--as you know--the Vietnamese restaurant community tends to use MSG rather judiciously. Exploring the Chinatown/SGV Vietnamese food scene these past few months has been heartrending, to say the least: never would I have imagined that MSG could be so rampantly used and abused. <smile> John and Richard have both been emphatic about the absence of MSG in the kitchen at Pho Le Loi. I failed to mention that in my O.P., but it's a big deal, no doubt.

              E.M.