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May 2, 2005 11:17 AM

Worst Pho Ever

  • m

A friend and I decided to "roll the dice" in Westminster and try a new shop. We ended up at "Nguyen Thuy" on Westminster Blvd. First of all they didnt have "pho tai sach" (with tripe) on the menu. So I just ordered pho tai. In fact when I asked if they do pho tai sach, the waiter looked very puzzled. I couldnt tell whether he was surprised that a gringo knew what it was or whether HE didnt know was it was!! Well the pho that come to my table was GROSS. The broth was outrageously oily and left an oil slick on your lips after each bite. The noodles were a mushy mess and the beef was tough and chewy. A total disapointment.

We also ordered bun bo hue (spicy lemon grass soup with beef blood, shrimp balls and flank). This soup was much better then the pho (not a big accomplishment) and the shrimp balls in this dish were fabulous.

Our final order was the house special "khay banh hoi" combo which is various meats presented with a ton of herbs, lettuce and angel vermicelli. You basically take the meat and herbs and contruct a taco/burrito with the lettuce leaves, then dip into nouc mum. Of the various meats, the grilled pork and pork meatballs were excellcent. The shrimp cake was too greasy and fishy.

Total for the 3 orders and 2 beers-$30. Not a bad place if you want to order something OTHER THAN PHO.

Sorry for the double post


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  1. Great review and one more place to cross off my list. As you know, I am on the hunt for a new place since the place I love changed all its recipes for the worst.

    The 24 hour place on bolsa has the best pho ever. The flavor is great. Small portions though and you have to pay for water. But the flavor and all the authentic condiments I like! Can't remember the name, but there are not too many 24 hour places.

    Keep posting Pho reviews. I need to find one close to Tustin and will be posting my reviews as well.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Diamond Dog

      Do you mean you literally have to pay for tap water at this place?

      1. re: Dorothy

        I visited here and told the waiter that I would just have water with my Pho. I was expecting a regular glass of water but was given a bottle of water. I decided not to say anything but I suppose that if I had asked, they would have taken it back and given me a glass of plain water (and hopefuly wouldn't charge for it).

    2. I've been to several branches of Pho2000, one of which--Beverly? Olympic? Pico? Man, can't remember--was my worst Pho experience. I know the tripe used in pho is "book tripe," but that doesn't mean it should have the taste and texture of paper. Ditto the beef--it was like what you describe: like jerky. No anise in the broth, to boot. Oh, and add to all this that I had a truly record-breaking hangover, and you've got a recipe for one lousy restaurant experience. Ugh.


      4 Replies
      1. re: dwg

        Pho 2000 is actually great compared to some of the others you might hit on Western or thereabouts. Pho 2000 is...edible. There's at least 1 in OC as well, not going to try it, so if someone does please report back. I had this indescribably awful pho years ago, might even be called Western Pho which is a couple of blocks down from the pho 2000 on Western and Beverly (or is it 3rd). Hopefully the competition has made them better because damn... And that wasn't the only bad pho I've had around those parts. Jonathan Gold had some theory about pho being like sullongtang thereby explaining how awful Koreanized pho is. I don't think so,dude. Koreans can spot milk in sullongtang a mile away, but this inability to taste dishwater pho is a phenomenon that is just... sad and inexplicable.

        However, these places are open 24 hrs, at least the ones I've been to. I guess the premise is that you are too drunk to notice how bad it is. IIRC, they were really busy at night. Not interested in going anymore.

        What's funny is the pho I consider the worst in OC, that would be Pho 79 somewhere off Brookhurst (and Hazard?), has a Korean article tacked up on the outside about how great it is. Surprisingly, a Viet person recommended this place to me, but I'd rather go anywhere else, thanh my,thanh long, not quan hy but that quan something on hazard and brookhurst, pho 54, etc, anywhere other than pho 79.

        1. re: jschyun

          i feel the same way about pho 79 in LA! i thought i was the only one. although you were talking about the one in OC, so maybe i still am the only one. it's not that i think it's the worst, it's just that it's so disappointing after everybody tips you there. i think pho hoa is much better, and even little pho bac across the hall from pho 79.


          1. re: dwg

            Wow, wondering if any of you are Vietnamese? My dad, who owned a pho stand in Vietnam, says Pho 79 in Garden Grove is closest to motherland pho. It's all in the broth. (His other favorite is all the way in Pomona, called Pho Ha). All of the other places listed (Pho Hoa especially) above as "good" pho is generally "stand-by" pho at best and for the non-Viet palate at worst. As for first reference to Nguyen Thuy's bad pho, not shocking. Not a place for pho, first off. Nguyen Thuy specializes in Central Hue cuisine. Never go eat pho at a Vietnamese restaurant that isn't strictly a pho restaurant. Like going to a steak restaurant and ordering the chicken, err, you know what I mean. That said, Nguyen Thuy's banh hoi combo is a treat.

            The worst pho I've ever had was at Pho 54, followed by Saigon Noodle House (in the 909), Pho My Man in downtown HB (though it's now What the Pho) and Pho America in Tustin. (?.

            1. re: dwg

              the first and the last time i went to pho 79 the guy dramatically picked his nose then served us the food.