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Phở in the central coast

Living in San Luis Obispo County is great, but i can't seem to find any place that serves phở. Anyone know anywhere to get a decent bowl on the central coast? I'm getting desperate - i'd go pretty much anywhere in between Paso Robles and Santa Maria. I'd probably go further if i knew of a good place.

Anyone got any tips?

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  1. China City - 5800 block of Calle Real in Goleta- between Fairview and Kellog. Not outstanding, but if you have to come down to SB for something- maybe swing by and give it a try. I love it- but am no expert on the Pho.

    10 Replies
    1. re: JalamaMama

      Better Pho at Saigon on State Street. If you only want to drive to Santa Maria, Saeng's Kitchen in what used to be the Mervyn's shopping center. Its not great but very acceptable.

      1. re: kaki3152

        My mom has been to Saeng's Kitchen a few times and says that they put some kind of hot dog type sausage in their pho? Seems like this might Lao/Cambodian style maybe (never seen sausage in Vietnamese pho before).

        1. re: mliew

          Are you sure it wasn't bo vien? It's a traditional Vietnamese beef meatball. It has kind of a more rubbery texture than what you'd expect, and are often cut in half or into slices. Extremely common in pho. Tasty, too.

          1. re: Shortsord

            Not sure, I wasn't there so I don't know. Just thought it sounded kind of strange. Even down here in San Diego where there are plenty of pho places I've never seen bo vien on the menu. Then again maybe I'm just not looking for it. If I ever see it though I'll give it a try.

            1. re: mliew

              Go for it. I'd be surprised if the majority of pho shops didn't offer pho bo vien. It's tasty, and definitely different than any meatball you've ever had, I'd guess. Sometimes it's offered with all the other goodies, sometimes it's only offered on it's own.

              1. re: Shortsord

                In Fresno, when I've had pho with bo vien, I didn't see it labeled as such on the menu but rather simply called "meatball."

              2. re: mliew

                Im in San Diego. There is always bo vien on the menu. if not, someone accidentally left it off. I don't even look at menus, when I eat pho it's usually, "Tai bo vien"

              3. re: Shortsord

                I've eaten at Saeng's and I can say that the meat is almost exactly the same as in the pho I get at Lucky Pho in Stockton. It has a texture very much like veal bockworst does: fine, and with a squeaky mouthfeel. It's very good but not quite as delicious as that at Lucky. It is cut into slices or halves.

                The broth is also very good. Sometimes the herbs are not as fresh as those at Lucky, but we don't have the Asian market farmers here on the coast to provide them from local fields.

                I'd rec Saeng's: if you are knowledgable and can order off ( as opposed to from) the menu, I'm sure the kitchen would do their best to accomodate. They are very friendly.

                1. re: toodie jane

                  2/25/10 2:30 p.m.

                  to report a bowl of beef pho that was like hot water. no flavor till the herbs infused towards the bottom of the bowl. SAD. will try pork next time to see if it's any better. I'm hoping it was a mistake.

              4. re: mliew

                I'm not sure what those sausages are, but Lao-style pho does not taste the same as Vietnamese-style or Cambodian-style pho. Thai-style pho is also different as well. So now I'm curious to know what those "sausage"-like things are in the Lao pho at Saeng's Kitchen. =)

          2. When I was in Paso this summer, I noticed there was a little Vietnamese place selling stuff like pho, but also knick-nacks etc. Didn't try the place, but it might be worth a visit. Don't recall the name, but the place wasn't too far from the central square in town.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ed Dibble

              There was a thread on it I contributed to a while back. It is good. Don't let the little shop fool you. The owner started cooking because she had people asking for good Vietnamese food in the area (including me).

              They always recommend something when we go. My wife particularly likes the flower tea they serve (though I find it a bit sweet with bits of apple).

              I also like the Bun rice bowls. They did Bahn mi at least one time and it was ok but not outstanding mostly due to the bread not being as fresh as I like.

              About the best I have found outside of Little Saigon in Westminister. Certainly the best I have had in Paso :).


            2. Chow in San Luis Obispo opened recently and serves Pho. Same owners as Novo.

              2 Replies
                1. re: toodie jane

                  Just got a report from a friend about the Pho at Chow. Apparently it wasn't up to snuff - the broth was lacking. Bummer.

              1. If you get all the way to Santa Barbara, try Noodle City in Goleta. Very authentic.

                3 Replies
                1. re: bohemiaSB

                  I can verify bohemiaSB .I just went there last weekend and got a large Pho to Go.
                  It was awesome ! Perfect broth, all the acoutrements, spices. That and a #41 lunch combo set me back $16. A bargain!
                  The place was full of what I presume were Vietnamese happily chowing away.
                  Its located on Hollister Ave in Goleta across from what used to be Alex's Cantina,if you're familiar with Goleta.

                  1. re: bohemiaSB

                    tried to make a visit but they are CLOSED SUNDAY.

                  2. just had a very nice bowl of pho at Lotus Thai, out in Los Osos. The owner is Thai, and a regular customer had been after her to make some pho, she relented, and now it's one of the most popular lunch menu items. Thank you Juan of the Tipsy Gypsies.

                    Rich broth, decent anount of beef slices, not too many fresh herbs, just cilantro, and the flat rice noodles. very satisfying on a cold windy day. They serve beef, chicken or pork pho.
                    on 9th street just off Los Osos Valley Blvd, next to the sherrif's substation. Open daily but for Sunday.

                    1. This little place is terrific! Last time we went we had the Pho dac biet. For those unfamiliar rare beef pho with meatballs (they should be squeeky), tripe and tendon. The tendon was meltingly soft and their broth was especially flavorful. It came with all the extras-sprouts, peppers, basil although she was out of mint that day. She makes her own bean chile sauce in house and I have been tempted to take some and have it anylized so I could always have it at home. She is very friendly and socialable. Her Banh Mi sandwiches are terrific too-we always get at least one to go, bread being light and crisp with very good pickled vegetables. My only disappointment this last visit is that they no longer have the pate (pork roll) for the sandwiches. She said it was because not enough people ordered it. They are so inexpensive and delicious I would order them several times a week if I lived in town, so please get in there and order them-you can take them right across the street to the park for a nice little picnic. This is a little gem of a place that we cannot loose!

                      Vietnam Imports & Tea House
                      721 12th St, Paso Robles, CA 93446

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: plumeriagirl2k

                        last time I was there, they only had the uncomfortable tall Bistro type tables, do they have regular seating now?

                        1. re: toodie jane

                          Yes, about 5 or 6 in the front of the store just as you walk in.

                      2. This week's Tribune 'Ticket' listed a Chinese Restaurant in SLO's Laguna Village shopping center as having added pho to it's menu.

                        Will try it out and report.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: toodie jane

                          Actually I was headed there on Friday when I heard an advertisement for Banh Mi Sanwiches at the Mongolian place by the train station. I went in and had the Pho dac biet. Pretty flavorful broth, lots of good brisket, the tripe was really clean with a good texture and the tendon was soft. I would have rather had less brisket and some more to the other goodies, but I'm sure I'm more of a hard core fan that the typical college student that makes up the majority of their customes. I was very disappointed that they did not have meatballs, but I figure they are just starting out. I also orderd 2 grilled pork sandwiches to go. When I got home I could hardly wait to taste them. The pickled veggies were good, meat flavorful although a little greasy for my taste, but unfortunately, the bread RUINED the whole sandwich! no resemblence of a light, crackling crispy vietnamese baguette whatsoever. Supper dense, chewy and SOFT! I will go back and give them another try down the road when they have had time to get their legs under them because I think they have great potential and they were incredibly friendly and nice! I can't wait to hear what you think of Mandarin Gourmet in the LVSC. They have been my favorite chinese restaurant for years. Just note that they do not open until 11:30.

                          Mandarin Gourmet
                          1184 Forest Ave Ste G, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

                          1. re: plumeriagirl2k

                            Encourage them to try bread form Edna's bakery. The Grinder shop on Broad opened serving a great sandwich on a roll such as you describe above. I waxed on about crispy french rolls,and in time, they switched.

                            They won't venture to change unless they get requests.

                            1. re: toodie jane

                              I must thank you twice then, because I love The Giant Grinder!

                              Giant Grinder Shop
                              1901 Broad St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

                            2. re: plumeriagirl2k

                              Update: I did give Lotus (the mongolian bbq by the train station in SLO) another try, and I am glad I did! Apparently the sandwich I had gotten before they had just forgotten to crisp up the bread. The bread is a family recipe, light and flakey. The honey and I have gone several times now and usually each order the combonation Pho AND a sandwich. We have the Pho there, and only part of the sandwich ever makes it home. I've had the Duck Noodle soup as well, which is very flavorful, although I wouldn't mind a little more duck-but I can never get enough duck. Now my only issue with them is that you have to order and pay before you sit down. I can understand that for the mongolian bbq part, but not for the rest of the menu. Oh well, they are trying different things, I'm sure they'll get it all worked out. It's not aggrevating enough to keep me from their food. MMMMM

                              1. re: plumeriagirl2k

                                We went to Lotus yesterday and had both pho and banh mi. Both were excellent.

                                1. re: dockhl

                                  I had the bahn mi and was not very happy with it. Took forever to get, almost 20 minutes? and the pork was tough, and overly chewy very mild flavor, and the roll was not really worth eating. What a good baguette would do to improve the sandwich, not sure, but this is not something I'll go back for. Will try some bahn mi in San Jose to compare.

                              2. re: plumeriagirl2k

                                Most of the commercial bakeries in the area don't make anything but the soft rolls. Have no idea why, except ahrder to keep fresh, maybe. But my last rip to Giant Grinder showed improvement in the roll dept. I'd encouraged the owner to upgrade to a crusty roll, and it was better, but still not eye-rolling great.

                                will have to try the mongol
                                ian place. alwasy on the lookout for new chow. maybe today?

                                Giant Grinder Shop
                                1901 Broad St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

                              3. re: toodie jane

                                Definately go try the Pho at Mandrin Gourmet. I went Friday, and plan on taking my Valentine tonight!