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Pho79 A warning

  • b

So I am an eater. I go all over looking for a good meal. And if I ind that meal I am prone to go back, sometimes on a weakly basis like my favorite Chinese restaurant.

That said, I went to Pho79 last week. Although they were skimpy on the sides like onions and sprouts, I very much enjoyed the broth. It wasn't a giant oil slick and tasted delicious. So I spread the word to my list of friends and planned on voyaging back this week.

Yesterday I went back. The meal was good, however I will never be going back. I had 3 $20 in my wallet. upon paying I was given change for a $10. I asked if I gave him a $20 and he said no. So I went and finished my water, went to the bathroom and came out. Walked up to him and told him that I have been here a few times and very much enjoyed my meal. Unfortunately I will never be coming back because I was lied to and ripped off. And I left.

So be warned. Does someone out there have any suggestions for good pho in the Koreatown/Hollywood/Downtown area to fill my pho void?

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  1. When I'm in Ktown, I love the pho at Pho LA in the 7-11 plaza on the southeast corner of 6th and Alexandria. Though very slight, I can taste the difference between all the other Vietnamese pho bowls I've had and the pho at Pho LA. Being Korean myself, the way it is made seems much more fitting for a korean tongue. If you try it, I hope it doens't disappoint even w/ the slight difference in taste.

    2 Replies
    1. re: WaterIsGood

      I banned Pho LA form my list of places. it's a shame because they are a great stop at 3am now that cactus closes early. The pho was never really good in my mind, but it was somewhat close and open 24/7. Although i did learn how the koreans eat pho. I actually enjoy there approach with the onions on the side covered in sraracha and dipped in the bowl.

      Maybe one day I'll finally find a good Ktown bbq place to go to.

      1. re: WaterIsGood

        All the "pho" places in K-town are definitely geared toward Korean palates. I'm not talking about the style of eating (onion-dipping or what have you). I'm talking about the taste of the actual dish itself (broth, noodles, etc...). K-town was the first place I lived when I moved to L.A. when I didn't know any better and thought that all pho places in L.A. were predominantly run by Koreans. I love Korean food itself, but sorry to say, I couldn't believe what was passing for pho there, but a Korean friend of mine told me she prefers the way Koreans make it and never liked any of the Viet pho places she was taken to. Moral of the story, if you're looking for PHO pho, don't go to Koreatown.

      2. Sorry to hear about your experience. Try Pho Hoa in China town. REAL hole in the wall, believe its on Spring street. Great pho, probably one of my favorite stops.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Mealcentric

          Will do, thanks.
          Any recomendations on what? I am usually a pho tai (soup) or bun cha` gio thit nuong (noodles/veg) guy.

          1. re: James

            I like Pho Dac Biet, minus the tendons of course.

            1. re: Beau

              Whats wrong with the tendons? We always get extra tendons when ordering pho.

              1. re: Jewls

                The tendons are the best thing!

                1. re: annie

                  Love those tendons!

        2. I just don't get what the appeal of this place is. After reading so many effusive reviews, I had to check it out. The pho broth I had there tasted really weak and watery. Such a disappointment. I thought they might have had an off day, so I went again a month later. Still the same anemic broth. That's it. I'm putting Pho 79 alongside the "WTF??" places such as Pinks, Tito's Tacos, and other overrated "institutions" that thrive solely on faded fame of their past.

          Incidentally, I find that the broth over at Pho So 1 in Van Nuys, near where I live, is much more flavorful. Is it the best? I don't know. But beats the pants off of Pho 79 any day.

          1. That reminds me of once we went to a Thai restaurant in Glendale. I went to the register to pay for the meal (which I did) and then my friend and I went on to buy some pastries that were at the counter. The SAME GUY that I paid told me that I did not pay for the meal. I told him I did. He decided to argue. Based on principal alone, I made him stand there and count out his whole register and then he realized that I had paid (like you, I knew exactly how much cash I had in my purse). However, we got no apology. Thus, we never went back.
            Regarding the Pho 79, I am a big fan - however, I only go to the one in Alhambra and have never had a problem. I thoroughly enjoy their food - love their Vietnamese Ham Bahn Mi. Delish!

            1. I highly advocate "Pho Western" at 5th & Western in Koreatown. I feel that it's a superior product to
              Pho 79, although it's still not as good as some of the pho in San Francisco.

              1. Went to chinatown to check out pho hoa on spring. Wasn't wery impressed with their meat or the broth. on to the next on the list, Pho Western.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Beau

                  This goes to Beau who seems to know his pho. The litmus test of folks in the know of a good pho is for them to try Pho Hoa, which is subpar at best. Try noodle city in Alhambra, between 6th and 7th ave on Valley, across the street from Union 76. Try #2 on the menu, and let me know what you think.

                  1. re: frugalgourmet

                    I ate pho for the first time when I read a fine review by Linda Burum raving about Pho Hoa in Chinatown years ago, maybe 20 yrs ago. Tried it and loved it. Knew it was authentic when I was the only white guy in there. I remember asking for a glass of water to go with my meal, and it took a half hour to get the concept across to the waiter. Often had pho there or at the Pho 79 also in Chinatown. Obviously, I am far from expert, but I know what I like, and both seem fine to me. However, I seem to remember noticing a couple months ago that the Pho Hoa had closed. I often go to the banh mi shop across the parking lot there, and the pho shop seemed locked and empty. Can anyone confirm? (And can anyone say what happened to Linda Burum? I really liked her reviews; she was always second to J Gold to me.)

                    1. re: Andrew Gore

                      Has she left the LA Times? I thought I was still seeing her Counter Intelligence column pretty recently.

                2. Are you talking about the one in Chinatown? That used to be my close to WeHo, go to place for Pho. The last time I went their is was one of the most disappointing dining experiences I can think of. The spring rolls were stuffed with bad shredded iceberg lettuce, the noodles were clumpy and the soup tasted bad. My wife, who is Vietnamese, was really bummed. I assured her that it used to be good, but my credibility was temporarily in question regarding VN food. I was since told it is now different management than the ones in Alhambra (which is still good) and the one in OC (still good). The problem is that there are so many choices that are better, but you have to drive to Alhambra (Golden Deli or Saigon Flavor) or Little Saigon (Quan Hop).

                  One Vietnamese place that is really worth the extra drive (I would even be willing to walk there) is Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa on Valley Blvd. I haven't tried their Pho, but they have the best spring rolls and Bun Bo Hue in LA. It isn't that much farther than Downtown if you go on the weekends. Get off on Atlantic and go west on Valley Blvd.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: bsquared2

                    Is Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa on the corner of Valley and 7th (or is it 6th) - across the street from Noodle World (Planet?)? If it is not, then this place DEFINITELY has to be tried if you like spring rolls. They offer a few variations, but it is the sauce that rocks! My friend, who turned me on to this place, is Vietnamese, and he said that his wife has tried to replicate the sauce but has been unable to as of yet. Pho is okay, but once doctored up is passable.

                    1. re: WildSwede

                      Hi, WildSwede, Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa is on the corner of Valley and Marengo. I think there is only one Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa, so I think the place you mentioned above is called something else. Sounds good, in any case.

                      1. re: katkoupai

                        Thanks katkoupai! I can never remember what the place I was talking about is called. I remember when I first went, about 4 years ago, it only had Vietnamese writing on the sign. I think now they changed it to something else. I think they also have a sign indicating that they have some of their Bobas for buy-one get-one free. You should try them. Their Spring Rolls (the ones with the green onions sticking out) are really good.

                        1. re: WildSwede

                          Thanks. I will try to check them out, the next time I'm near there. :)

                  2. I recommend Pho Broadway in Chinatown :

                    942 N. Broadway

                    1. I assume you're talking about the one in Chinatown. I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience. I don't know your ethnic background, but I'm Vietnamese, and I want you to know that happens to me on occasion when I go to Viet places, too. I'm not sure why I felt the need to explain that. I guess my point is that at least they don't discriminate when they rip people off. Take that for what it's worth I guess. :) I'm what's known as Viet Kieu ("foreign" Vietnamese), and I guess I "seem" like an easy pigeon or something cause it sure happens to me a lot.

                      I actually liked Pho 79, too. We must've gone on a good day that first time, because the broth was very complex and the meat nice and tender although I felt that the portions were small. I haven't been back just because I don't care for Chinatown all that much. I sent my mom, aunt, and sister to Pho Hoa in Chinatown once, and they all agreed that it was good, especially my mom. This was back in November. I see you've already tried it though and weren't impressed. I've also heard good things about Pho Broadway as a poster mentioned upthread, but I've never been, nor do I know anyone who's been.

                      It's a good idea to try pho places more than once. Sometimes they have a subpar batch of broth on a given day and they can't do anything about it really because it takes hours upon hours to prepare the broth. I generally adjust the broth to suit my taste by requesting fish sauce (not the prepared kind but just straight fish sauce) and hoisin sauce. I add lime, pepper, fish sauce, sriracha, and hoisin sauce until the taste meets my picky palate and, in general, always end up with a broth that is suitable to me.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: hch_nguyen

                        Ha, I just noticed that the original post dates back to 2005. Hopefully, you've found a pho joint in your neck of the woods that you find acceptable!

                        1. re: hch_nguyen

                          I have been to both Pho Broadway and Pho Hoa and prefer Pho Hoa. However, Pho 79 have only been to the Alhambra location) still reigns supreme with me.