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Henry & Kristen of the (now defunct) Reyn Pho in Pasadena have found a new home in Monrovia!!

WildSwede Jan 4, 2011 04:30 PM

Well, I have great news since this post from September...

Kristen called me this afternoon and told me that they have a space in Monrovia (yay! closer to home for me and very 210 freeway accessible for everyone else!). She said that they have not had their grand opening yet, but that she wanted to let me know they are there. I will be stopping by for dinner tonight and will post more after I get the 411. They are working on an email that they will be sending to all their customers from when they were at The Reyn.

They have named their new restaurant Pho Lemon as it is located on Lemon Avenue in Monrovia (east of Myrtle). I am so excited! It is great for the community as there are no Pho or Vietnamese offerings in the area (closest is down on Baldwin south of Duarte). And their Pho (and everything else) is delicious and you will not find nicer people!

Pho Lemon
113 E Lemon Ave
Monrovia, CA 91016
(626) 789-7858

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  1. ElsieDee RE: WildSwede Jan 4, 2011 05:32 PM

    Are they in where the empanadas place used to be?

    1 Reply
    1. re: ElsieDee
      heckonwheels RE: ElsieDee Jan 5, 2011 07:50 AM


    2. WildSwede RE: WildSwede Jan 5, 2011 10:43 AM

      Follow-up to this post. Went last night after work - arrived around 6:30. It is a small, cute place, nicely decorated and clean. They have beautiful wood floors, nice wallpaper and paint, 4 comfortable full booths, 1 half booth (with chairs on one side - seats 3), 3 4-tops and 3 2-tops.
      When I got there, all the booths were taken (except the half booth which is where I sat). When I left, all the booths were still full (all except one with new patrons) and three of the tables were taken. I kept hearing people comment to the staff that they are so glad they are here. I, for one, am too!
      Service is friendly and helpful. I ordered number A1 - Egg Roll appetizer ($4.95 for 4 with the usual accompanyments) and N2 - Rare beef filet mignon Pho ($7.45), iced tea ($1.65). Food was great.
      They offer the following: Spring Rolls (BBQ pork, shrimp, beef, tofu or chicken) - I love these with the BBQ pork!; Fried Tofu and the Fried Egg Rolls I mentioned earlier. Bahn Mi: Egg and Ground Pork; BBQ Pork; Grilled Chicken; Pork Meatball (with tomato sauce) and Grilled Beef Lemongrass. Salads: House Salad; Beef Salad; Chicken; Shrimp & Pineapple. Pho (in beef broth): Special with rare filet mignon, beef brisket, well done beef flank and beef balls; filet mignon; shrimp; BBQ Pork; Beef Ball; Seafood; Vegetable. Pho (in chicken broth): Chicken; Grilled Chicken. Egg Noodle Soups (in beef broth): Shrimp; Beef Ball; Seafood; Rare Beef. Egg Noodle Soups (in chicken broth): Chicken. They also have Vermicelli dishes, all grilled meats available with lemongrass (including salmon). They also offer Curry Vermicelli, all grilled meats including Salmon. Also, Vermicelli with egg rolls; sliced BBQ pork; Vegetarian Tofu (more on this in a sec.); Special vermicelli with tofu or 2 eggrolls and choice of meat. Steamed rice dishes (lemongrass and curry) also including Oyster Sauce flavor. They have special dishes - Curry Chicken; Curry Beef; Beef Stew and Spare Rib Stew and Fried Rice Dishes. (Prawns, BBQ pork, Chicken Curry or Beef Lemongrass).
      Okay, now for the best part (for those of you who can't take your veggie friends for Pho as there is not a lot they can eat): They have honest-to-goodness vegetarian options made with "vegetarian" meat! Vegetarian Chicken Lemongrass; Beef Lemongrass, Vege Chicken Curry; Vege Beef Curry; Vege Pho and Vege Vermicelli Tofu. They also use no MSG.
      Their website is not up yet, so I just wanted everyone to know what they offered. A little long, I know, and I apologize.
      Either way, food was delicious, space is very nice and clean and service could not be better! Go try it for yourselves! You will love it!

      Pho Lemon
      113 E Lemon Ave.
      Monrovia, CA 91016
      (626) 789-7858

      M-Th: 9am - 9pm
      F-Sat: 9am - 10pm - perfect for after (or before) Family Farmer's Market night!
      Sun: 9am - 8pm

      10 Replies
      1. re: WildSwede
        ns1 RE: WildSwede Jan 5, 2011 10:50 AM

        I'm intrigued thanks for the review.

        1. re: ns1
          WildSwede RE: ns1 Jan 5, 2011 11:32 AM

          You are most welcome! I just want to make people aware since they are kinda off the beaten path in Monrovia and people may not notice them. And they deserve to be noticed since they offer something delicious and different (Pho) in an area that has some great options.

          1. re: WildSwede
            Will Owen RE: WildSwede Jan 5, 2011 12:01 PM

            I would've noticed at some point, because they're right across the street from Cafe Massilia, my favorite cheap(ish) French joint. Boy, lunch in Monrovia just got a LOT more interesting! I'm sorry to have lost them from my own neighborhood (and do you think I'll set foot in The Reyn ever again?), but this new spot should be a good one for them. Sounds to me from your review that they've had no problem drawing a crowd.

            Cafe Massilia
            110 east lemon avenue, Monrovia, CA 91016

            1. re: Will Owen
              WildSwede RE: Will Owen Jan 5, 2011 04:50 PM

              I just noticed Cafe Massilia for the first time last night. So blind!! Actually, I just think that I don't go down that street very often. I got new 411 on the goings on at the Reyn - I will let you in on it next time I see you guys. They stopped their Vietnamese menu a month after Kristen and Henry left. Wonder why??!!

              635 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

              Cafe Massilia
              110 east lemon avenue, Monrovia, CA 91016

              1. re: WildSwede
                Will Owen RE: WildSwede Jan 6, 2011 09:45 AM

                I used to be on that street mostly because of the swell but I-can't-afford-it Craftsman-stuff store; I discovered Massilia by accident, right after they'd opened (and posted a few mentions about it later). A sandwich there, or an order of escargot and a small salad, plus (if I'm on foot) a glass of wine, is about as much money as I want to spend for lunch most days. Pho Lemon is a very welcome alternative, especially if I'm both hungry and poor …

                Yeah, The Reyn is back to their old menu and hours. The only reason I ever went there before was to meet someone for lunch, especially if we wanted the breakfast option. I know of too many better options for that nowadays to bother with them.

                635 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

                1. re: Will Owen
                  khh1138 RE: Will Owen Jan 22, 2011 07:29 AM

                  This is my favourite furniture store ("Historic Lighting" -- they also sell gorgeous tiffany style lamps and other amazing things) -- we save up for like 6 months or a year and then go and buy a piece. I'm hoping they stay in business long enough for us to get our whole house furnished at this rate...

                  I'm really tickled to have another new place to eat for our trips to HL as well as the Krikorian Theatre (right there as well).

                  Wild Swede, quick question -- what sort of veggies do they give you when you order Pho? That's the one thing I've been disappointed with in most places -- toppings seem old, and not enough of it! How is the freshness of the basil, cilantro, chilis? I remember one place where I went and the lime was so old I couldn't squeeze any juice out. I asked for another and they just scowled. The garnishes are really important to me, I guess.

                  1. re: khh1138
                    WildSwede RE: khh1138 Jan 22, 2011 11:38 AM

                    Hi khh,
                    That furniture store had a sign on it saying "staying in business". I guess they were thinking of going out of business but got some good news. They do have fabulous things! Good luck!
                    As for your question... I have never had a problem squeezing the limes or with the freshness of the veggies. I, actually, unabashedly ask for extra lime and cilantro with mine (the places I frequest often already know this about me and just automatically bring it to me). I actually do not put a lot of the sprouts into the pho, I much prefer adding salt and squeezed lime onto them and eating them with a sauce made up of the condiments on the table. Everything has always seemed fresh and crisp to me. Also, I have never felt bad about asking for more and have always gotten my request granted. Although the lack of weekend deliveries may make the veggies not as fresh on Sunday (but I am just guessing here since I have never found that to be a problem).
                    Went by last night and they were packed. So I decided to try a pizza place in the area - Alitalia Pizza on Foothill. Surprisingly good (I say that since I never see anyone in there). While waiting for my pizza, I realized all their business is take out! There were at least 5 people who came and went as I waited less than 10 minutes and the phone was ringing pretty much the whole time. Cash only.

        2. re: WildSwede
          Peripatetic RE: WildSwede Jan 5, 2011 12:32 PM

          Thanks for the thorough report!

          Did you notice if they're doing ca phe sua da with filters, or is it pre-mixed? One of the things that kept me from becoming a regular at the Reyn (despite it being walking-distance) was they premixed their ca phe sua da (and I think also used half-and-half or non-dairy creamer rather than condensed milk).

          1. re: Peripatetic
            WildSwede RE: Peripatetic Jan 5, 2011 04:52 PM

            Hi Peri! Unfortunately, I don't drink coffee so I have not had it nor do I have any idea. You could give them a call and ask. Sorry about that!

          2. re: WildSwede
            lileor RE: WildSwede Jan 7, 2011 09:57 PM

            Thanks for heads up! I live in Monrovia and usually go to Golden Deli or Vietnam House for my pho fix. I am looking forward to Golden Deli Express opening in Temple City, and now this!

          3. raytamsgv RE: WildSwede Jan 5, 2011 03:45 PM

            Thanks for the update. How does it compare with something like Pho 79 or Golden Deli?

            1 Reply
            1. re: raytamsgv
              WildSwede RE: raytamsgv Jan 5, 2011 04:48 PM

              Pho 79 (the chargrilled pork Pho) is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE in the whole wide world. Pho Lemon comes in 2nd (like the N2 here) and Golden Deli somewhere else below those two. Pho Lemon's broth is clear and flavorful and I don't eat the Tai meat when I have Pho Tai, but I do at Pho Lemon since they use filet mignon that Henry pounds (it is very tender).

              Golden Deli
              815 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

            2. lynnlato RE: WildSwede Jan 5, 2011 03:50 PM

              I'm heading to Monrovia, for the first time ever, in 2 weeks to visit old friends. I'll pass this along and maybe we can visit.

              12 Replies
              1. re: lynnlato
                WildSwede RE: lynnlato Jan 5, 2011 04:49 PM

                Monrovia is great. If you come on a Friday, be sure to check out the Farmer's market and family fair. A lot of fun!!

                1. re: WildSwede
                  lynnlato RE: WildSwede Jan 6, 2011 07:38 AM

                  This is what I've heard. I think my friends have plans to take me to the market. I LOVE a great market. I can't wait!

                  1. re: lynnlato
                    WildSwede RE: lynnlato Jan 6, 2011 10:16 AM

                    If you go, be sure to stop at the booth where a man and woman serve the "best" shrimp and crab ceviche (not sure if that is what they call it). It comes in a clear cup and is served with tapatio, lime and salt (if you want). There are two vendors that sell it, but the best is the one that only does the one version. About $4/ea. Also, they have a booth that does INSANE candied apples. Insane! Another booth does roasted peanuts which are good (although I always go for the salted ones). The French woman who sells bread and pastries is not that great. If you want a good Gyro, try Sam's Kebab on Myrtle (yes, it is dirty and service is not great, but the food is really good). I will be there this Friday if it does not rain. Maybe I will try Gene's Grinders that I found out have a location in Monrovia. Have fun!

                    Gene's Grinders
                    800 S Myrtle Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016

                    1. re: WildSwede
                      Will Owen RE: WildSwede Jan 6, 2011 10:33 AM

                      "The French woman who sells bread and pastries is not that great." Do you know if this is the same woman who sells at the South Pas market on Thursdays? Quite slender and chic? I've gotten a few of her items and found most of them much better looking than tasting; well-made and lovely, but lacking flavor.

                      We've not been to Monrovia's market in a couple of years. Last time we went it was more like a flea market than a real farmer's market, with way too much Country Kitsch. If that has changed we need to try again; our tolerance for handpainted mailboxes and stuffed bunnies in granny getup is severely limited.

                      1. re: Will Owen
                        WildSwede RE: Will Owen Jan 6, 2011 10:49 AM

                        Could be the same - have not been to the So Pas FM in years and I don't remember her being there then. Yes, looks lovely but is lacking in taste. Exactly what I thought.
                        Still selling the items you mentioned but all the farmer's market stalls are at the south end, so you can pretty much completely miss the other stuff if you start at the south end of the FM on Myrtle. They changed it in January, 2010 - they made the rule that vendors must make a certain percentage of their offerings (not sure how much) so they lost a lot of their vendors that were there in 2009 and before. So it is now smaller than before, but still interesting. You can have someone make you a personalized license plate frame, your kids can ride ponies and pet goats, I saw the last time I was there someone with a truck and you could get your pics in a tropical setting with live parrots! Lots of jewelery, clothes, handmade items as you mentioned, but I don't think there are that many of those types of items as before.
                        I just like to go eat and people watch. Found a new favorite store - Friends of Dorothy. Great stuff.

                        1. re: WildSwede
                          Will Owen RE: WildSwede Jan 6, 2011 12:45 PM

                          "Still selling the items you mentioned but all the farmer's market stalls are at the south end, so you can pretty much completely miss the other stuff if you start at the south end of the FM on Myrtle." Cool! So it's kind of like the Rose Bowl swap meets, only smaller - all the good stuff over HERE, all the tube socks over THERE! Gotcha.

                          1. re: Will Owen
                            WildSwede RE: Will Owen Jan 6, 2011 04:06 PM

                            LOL! Yep! ;-)

                      2. re: WildSwede
                        lynnlato RE: WildSwede Jan 6, 2011 11:14 AM

                        The ceviche sounds right up my alley - and at $4/cup how could I not? Thanks for all the great suggestions. Grinders? In California? I'm originally from PA - home of the grinder/hoagie! ;-)

                        1. re: lynnlato
                          WildSwede RE: lynnlato Jan 6, 2011 12:31 PM

                          Oh yeah, the ceviche people always sell out so make sure you get there before they do (they usually still have some at 6:30 when I get there). It also comes with saltines which I forgot to mention. I think the crab is immitation but it is so good, I don't even care. Lots of shrimp!
                          Yeah, never eaten there, but with Grinders in the name... gotta try it! ;-)
                          Enjoy your visit!

                          1. re: WildSwede
                            lynnlato RE: WildSwede Jan 24, 2011 01:14 PM

                            I was able to get over to the market and had the pleasure of having some of the shrimp ceviche - yum! Very light and fresh and it came with a little cup of hot sauce and a couple of corn tortillas. Thanks for this rec, I really enjoyed it. I told them a Chowhound Swede recommended their ceviche. I'm not sure if he knew who I was talking about. :-)

                            We also enjoyed George, the Greek guy, and all of his spreads. What a big personality that guy is! He sure does know how to work the crowd. I loved how he chopped peppers and feta cheese with scissors - ha! He had some pretty tasty spread combinations though - and he was friendly and entertaining.

                            The guy that twists the sliver bar to make name necklaces was adorable too. Everyone there was so nice! I also enjoyed the dried fruit ladies and got some dried peaches to eat on the plane.

                            1. re: lynnlato
                              WildSwede RE: lynnlato Jan 26, 2011 02:25 PM

                              Glad you had a nice time - and you had nice weather, too! Take care!

                        2. re: WildSwede
                          WildSwede RE: WildSwede Jan 8, 2011 02:38 AM

                          I need to correct my post regarding the "ceviche" I mentioned. It is not ceviche - it is cocktail, as in shrimp cocktail. It is the booth called Tommy's. Just wanted to clarify. It is delicious, by whatever name! ;-)
                          Also, one more thing about Pho Lemon - they don't use MSG in anything.

                  2. Jordan RE: WildSwede Jan 7, 2011 09:42 AM

                    Thanks for the tip. This is close to me, and I love good Vietnamese.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Jordan
                      Jordan RE: Jordan Jan 20, 2011 08:50 AM

                      We gave this place a try last weekend.

                      The room is small but cute with a cheery (but not bright) yellow color scheme. Nice booths and chairs. The staff was very friendly though the service was unpolished and food came out at erratic intervals. (One bowl of pho arrived about ten minutes before the second.)

                      They have both spring rolls (uncooked) and egg rolls (fried). Both were very tasty. The spring rolls had a nice balance of rice noodles, herbs, and meat. You do have to choose which meat you want, though -- we went with one roast pork and one shrimp. It's too bad, because my ideal spring roll has both pork and shrimp in it.

                      The "filet mignon" pho is really good -- the broth has a great flavor base, and the thinly sliced very rare filet is extremely tender and slowly cooks in the hot broth. It comes with the usual table salad accompaniments (bean sprouts, jalapenos, Thai basil, mint, limes).

                      The bahn mi, on the other hand, is odd. I ordered the roast pork bahn mi. This was on a toasted hoagie roll, instead of a fresh, untoasted baguette. The roast pork was very good, but the rest of the sandwich consisted of sliced tomato and onion and a bit of shredded cabbage. It was as if Quizno's was doing bahn mi. No pickled cabbage and carrots, no cilantro, no pate -- I've never had a "bahn mi" like this before, and it' wasn't good.

                      I would go back for the pho and the rolls but avoid the bahn mi.

                      1. re: Jordan
                        WildSwede RE: Jordan Jan 20, 2011 11:10 AM

                        Glad you liked <most> of it. For the spring rolls, if you asked, I am sure they will put both in for you. I usually get the pork. It is my favorite, although my current fave is the fried tofu app.
                        I have never had their Bahn Mi, so I cannot comment from that side, but it does sound odd. Did they actually call it Banh Mi? Since that does not sound at all like any Bahn Mi I have ever had.

                        1. re: WildSwede
                          Jordan RE: WildSwede Jan 20, 2011 01:48 PM

                          Don't be so sure! I did ask if they could give me a pork/shrimp spring roll, and the waiter said no, but we could have one of each. So that's what we did.

                          The menu does say "bahn mi" -- they've updated their website now so you can see the menu. Actually, the online menu just says "Vietnamese sandwich" but I recall the printed menu said "bahn mi."

                          Anyway, yeah, it sure was strange. And without the pate and pickled veggies, pretty flavorless.

                          1. re: Jordan
                            WildSwede RE: Jordan Jan 20, 2011 02:04 PM

                            Very interesting. The online menu doesn't say anything about tomatos and onions on the sandwich. Also, I noticed the picture they have of the fried tofu. I am not sure what that is a picture of, but what they show is absolutely unappetizing. What comes out on the plate does not look like that!!

                            1. re: Jordan
                              RoxyGrl RE: Jordan Jan 20, 2011 04:27 PM

                              I had the same experience with the banh mi a couple of weeks ago- it had tomatoes and red onion but the veggies weren't pickled and I couldn't find any mayo or pate. If it wasn't for the two slices of jalapeno it would have been virtually flavorless. Mine was on a pretty good baguette, however.

                              I wonder if they were trying to 'americanize' it? I saw a post from one of the owners on Yelp recently (which seems to have been deleted) saying that they had modified some of their recipes to better suit their customers in Monrovia. I understand their desire to appeal to more customers - and pretty much every other restaurant in Old Town Monrovia does the same thing - but it is disappointing for those of us that aren't looking for the Wang's Palace version of Vietnamese.

                              1. re: RoxyGrl
                                WildSwede RE: RoxyGrl Jan 20, 2011 04:31 PM

                                I would definitely be disappointed if they start doing this. I think people in Monrovia have discerning enough palates that they would like to have correct versions of foods they eat. The authentic versions are so good.
                                Nothing makes me crazier than getting a dumbed-down version of something because I am blonde and blue eyed (waiters automatically assume that I cannot tolerate any heat and make everything so bland that I have to make a point of stressing I want it "spicy"). Even then, they don't believe me!

                                1. re: RoxyGrl
                                  Peripatetic RE: RoxyGrl Jan 20, 2011 05:34 PM

                                  I've definitely had this experience at otherwise good non-banh mi specialists. In particular the banh mi at Vietnam Restaurant (not Vietnam House) seemed to be something they keep on the menu for customers who really want one, no more than the sum of its parts. I get the impression that getting banh mi from non-banh mi specialists results in near-certain disappointment. Does anyone have a counterexample?

                        2. j
                          justinelc RE: WildSwede Jan 7, 2011 11:37 PM

                          Thanks so much for the update! My mom lives in Arcadia and there is no good pho nearby! I'm going to see her tomorrow, so I'll try to convince others to try it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: justinelc
                            WildSwede RE: justinelc Jan 8, 2011 02:45 AM

                            I was in for dinner last night after walking through the farmer's market - it was much smaller than it was just a few weeks ago with less people walking around. Obviously, summer and warm weather are big draws for vendors as well as the crowds. Sorry, tangent.
                            I am confident that everyone can find something they like. Tonight, I ordered the fried tofu (I usually get the BBQ pork or shrimp spring rolls but thought I would shake it up a bit). And boy, am I glad I did, it was delicately breaded in a lightly salted batter and fried in large cubes and topped with scallions. The tofu was soft and custard-like. Served with their peanut sauce. I highly recommend it.
                            Also, business seems to be good - they had to close for a few hours after lunch on Friday as they were so busy they ran out of several items.

                          2. t
                            tonicart RE: WildSwede Jan 9, 2011 12:27 PM

                            Just went here for lunch today. I'm vietnamese so I had high expectations, but I've got to say that it was pretty good. The aesthetics are modified for an american audience, but the food is good. I had the spring rolls and the pho dac biet -- the spring rolls were ok but the pho was a bit salty. Hope they fine tune this over the next few weeks. The vietnamese coffee (cafe sua da) was pretty good. Great looking restaurant and yay for the instrumental vietnamese music. Can't stand the traditional viet singers :(

                            Will be coming back more often to try everything else. The Bo Kho (beef stew) is next on my (long) list :)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: tonicart
                              WildSwede RE: tonicart Jan 9, 2011 12:59 PM

                              I mentioned how much I liked the wallpaper, booths, chairs, etc and Henry told me that Tracy worked with an interior designer in Vietnam and went back and forth for a while before they finalized the look.

                            2. c
                              crystaw RE: WildSwede Jan 21, 2011 12:01 AM

                              Thanks for the head's up on this place! Went there last week and had a tasty bowl of pho which seemed to have no bottom! My cousin's beef stew was rather disappointing though so maybe that's something on the menu that can be skipped. I'm glad I can get a good bowl of pho closer to home. No pickled veggies in the banh mi -that's my favorite part!

                              1. Will Owen RE: WildSwede Feb 2, 2011 01:25 PM

                                Both Mrs. O and I blew our chances of stopping in here when were in the area recently, so last night when we'd been Lunar-New-Year shopping in Arcadia and she said, "Where can we grab a bite?" I simply pointed out that we were damn near in Monrovia …

                                It is very nice. The place was empty when we walked in around 8:00, but was about half-full when we left. We just got our old fave, the pho #1 Special with everything but tripe (which they apparently don't have), and water because it was too late for tea. Loved the decor, and the atmosphere fits the food better than The Reyn's did for sure. The music got annoying in a hurry, like some bad Asian/fusion imitation of those old Windham Hill albums, but the people are really nice and the pho well worth the stop. The lightly-cooked beef especially was tender and very flavorful. Neither the broth nor all the meats were quite up to Pho 79's, I think, but perfectly adequate and better than most, and this place has neither lackadaisical staff nor plastic flowers in need of dusting!

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