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Nongla - Delicious Westside Vietnamese - Hurray!

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banjoboy May 22, 2012 07:20 PM

Right in the heart of Sawtelle is a lovely new "cafe" that serves fresh, tasty, reasonably priced Vietnamese food. As someone who has been driving to Van Nuys (and the SGV) for pho and/or bahn mi fixes, this place is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Portions might be a bit smaller than some of the other Vietnamese places I've been to, but the quality of the food and ingredients is at another level. Didn't try the pho, but the bun dishes were very good. Got a bahn mi to go and it was also very good.

Looking forward to exploring the menu further on my next visit.

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  1. Servorg RE: banjoboy May 22, 2012 08:15 PM

    Sounds good, BB. I see via Eater LA that they've been open all of 2 days http://la.eater.com/tags/nongla How much was the bahn mi?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg
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      banjoboy RE: Servorg May 22, 2012 08:51 PM

      I think it was around six dollars. The pork was excellent, and I'm pretty sure the mayo spread was homemade. Obviously not SGV prices, but worth it to me.

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      bulavinaka RE: banjoboy May 22, 2012 09:53 PM

      Keeping my fingers crossed they keep doing what they're doing - paying more for good Vietnamese in the Westside is worth it. I found this address info on yelp, along with three very positive reviews:

      2055 Sawtelle Blvd
      Los Angeles, CA 90025

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        Jase RE: banjoboy May 23, 2012 08:07 PM

        Went there today and got two different kinds of bahn mi and some spring rolls.

        Bahn Mi's are $5.50/6.50 for 8/12 inch. Two spring rolls for $5.

        Spring rolls had a few shrimp in it, good amount of veggies. Heavy on the mint and a cup of peanut sauce. I took everything to go so can't really gauge how well the wrapper would be fresh. They did make to order. The veggies were pretty fresh but the whole thing didn't quite jell together for me. Not bad but nothing outstanding either. Same with the sauce. Still it's decent value.

        Bahn Mi's I got the lemongrass beef and the grilled pork. Overall the sandwiches were solid if you just consider them as sandwiches and decent value for the price. But as a bahn mi, I found it lacking. The pickled vegetables were mainly just carrots. They did use full sprigs of cilantro, a couple rings of jalapeno and decent amount of meat. The bread wasn't ovely crusty.

        But it just lacked the balance that makes a good bahn mi. The interplay of the pickled veggies to go with the meat and spread. Oh, the spread was minimal on mine, no distinct pate flavor, mainly mayo tasting. The meats by themselves were pretty good. I did like the grilled pork more than the beef.

        Bottom line, it's a good sandwich for the price. But more banh mi inspired than a good bahn mi. Worth getting if you're in the area and a good lunch option. Especially a 12 inch for only $6.50.

        Friendly people, ingredients seem fresh enough. I'd want to go back and explore rest of the menu. Items are inexpensive enough, it's low risk.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Jase
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          boyfood RE: Jase Jun 6, 2012 06:54 AM

          Now it's months ago I was working construction related in Gardena. 1 day as I was driving along Rosecrans Blvd. getting some more stuff for the job I spotted a Pho place that had a great name: PHOEVER. It's the best pho I ever had! But that's not everything on their menu...not by far. Check 'em out you won't regret it.

          1. re: boyfood
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            poggibonzzi RE: boyfood Jun 6, 2012 03:16 PM

            Sure a better name than PHOOEY :-)

            1. re: boyfood
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              bulavinaka RE: boyfood Jun 6, 2012 03:49 PM

              We had dinner there a few months back. Dinner was good - I'd go back.

            2. re: Jase
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              Dirtywextraolives RE: Jase Jun 29, 2012 09:32 AM

              Is the pate usually mixed into the mayo? I've had them where it is actual slices of a pate, not smeared into the mayo, maybe some places make it differently. I would think there are as many variations as there are of other Vietnamese dishes probably dictated by region.

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              PayOrPlay RE: banjoboy Jun 6, 2012 04:37 PM

              PoPJr and I tried Nongla last night. Pho dac biet was OK, but the broth at Le Saigon on Santa Monica Blvd. (currently the best of the limited Westside pho choices) is beefier. We also thought the basil provided with the pho was a bit skimpy (although to be fair, the waitress said she'd bring more if asked, and Le Saigon is sometimes skimpy with their basil as well--to my knowledge, none of the westside places offer the more extensive variety of herbs we've sometimes gotten with pho in Little Saigon in OC) and the amount of meat in the pho dac biet was also a little light. Noodles were a little thicker than at some places, but tasted good.

              Also ordered a grilled chicken banh mi with fried egg--not a bad sandwich,good bread, but missing a little flavor somehow: adding the jalapeno slices and/or some sauce helps. It's certainly better than the banh mi at Le Saigon . . . since they don't have banh mi at all. (On the other hand, Nongla doesn't seem to offer anything like the roll-your-own platter, piled high with all sorts of yummy greens, that's my wife's favorite dish at Le Saigon).

              Another advantage Nongla does have over Le Saigon: they accept credit cards. And you can walk around the corner to Blockheads for dessert, as we did.

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                ghostdoggy RE: banjoboy Jun 6, 2012 11:52 PM

                The menu only lists one kind of beef and beef balls, no tripe, brisket, or tendons. Are they available if asked or is this just another Americanized faux-pho joint?

                3 Replies
                1. re: ghostdoggy
                  Dommy RE: ghostdoggy Jun 7, 2012 09:21 AM

                  I wouldn't say its americanized but their kitchen is INCREDIBLY tiny. They have very little storage. I think it's just a matter of logistics... I was watching their dance yesterday and it was quite exhausing even for me!

                  ---Dommy!

                  1. re: Dommy
                    liu RE: Dommy Jun 29, 2012 09:10 AM

                    Hi, Dommy!
                    We sat at the bar, and as I watched the kitchen -- as you did -- I felt the chaos.

                    Nevertheless, my banh mi was delicious. The bread was perfect...not too bread-y and very tasty! The owner told me that they pick up the bread every day from "far, far away" (San Gabriel Valley...what a trek!). We also enjoyed their spring rolls. They make their own dipping sauce and it was "perfect;" yes, it had a peanut base, but it had other rich flavors, too.

                    We liked the food and the owner was definitely present and checking up on her customers. I think this is a nice addition to the Sawtelle strip and we will be back for the banh mi.

                  2. re: ghostdoggy
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                    PayOrPlay RE: ghostdoggy Jun 7, 2012 08:07 PM

                    There's tripe in their pho dac biet.

                  3. Discerning1 RE: banjoboy Jun 29, 2012 01:08 AM

                    Sorry, banjoboy...ate there this week on your recommendations and we were disappointed. We shared a pho ga, a tofu/mushroom bun, and a chicken sandwich.

                    None of it sparkled and it wasn't all that filling. The lemonade was really, really bad. Very little lemon. Looked and tasted like dishwater with a touch of lemon.

                    They didn't bring greens for the pho, so we had to ask.

                    1. wienermobile RE: banjoboy Oct 13, 2012 07:21 PM

                      Went tonight for the first time, very welcoming and friendly service and a very tasty pho. Appetizers and spring rolls were very good also. Reasonable price too. I'll be back to try their bahn mi.

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