Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Dine & Dish: Pho Cafe

It's that time again, time to Dine and Dish...and the theme this month? The extra wonderliciously titled Asian Persuasion brought to us once again by (L.A. Times featured blogger super-star) Sarah of Delicious Life fame. What a gal.

It just so happens that I love me the Asian foods. Hakka, Mandarin, Korean, Kaiseki-Ryori, Sushi, Kyhmer, you name it, I'm in. And being in LA, we have them all to choose from.

One national cuisine I super adore is Vietnamese. Using fresh herbs and lime, simple, straightforward broths and a huge variety of vegetables I cannot get enough of it.

That is where The Card Shark comes in. You know the type, a tiny slip of a glamour girl, dressed head to toe in Prada, (Bless her soul) with a sing-song voice and well, a proclivity towards gambling. That beautiful child, I swear, she sits down at a table of myself and nine burly men and with a stone cold face and with a bat of her eyelashes, cleans us out. Drains our pockets. Drop kicks every last one of us to the curb. It is beyond impressive. And while her sister The Queen (long may she reign) drinks herself silly and flirts like a mad woman (it was a room full of boys and she is a specialist.) I sit there in awe. And after five, six, seven hours of this brutal yet dainty assault, I am broke. It is then that hunger can no longer be ignored and the ladies and I departed for Pho Cafe. Or as they called it "You know, that place, without a sign, in the same mini-mall as Rambutan." It is pretty much the last place in town I can afford using the wooden nickles covered in lint I have in my pocket after The Card Shark was finished picking my bones.

Now kids, I have said time and time again, I do not take photos while dining and I am no restaurant reviewer. I'm the worst at it, yet I keep challenging myself. So here goes. Sorry for the lack of visuals. Perhaps my prose will build a picture in your mind instead.

Pho Cafe is a long, extremely brightly lit corridor of a restaurant with a floor to ceiling glass front wall. The whole joint is painted white and the chairs are orange plastic. (Love it) It is usually packed to the limit with the (trendy, gentrifying) neighborhood hipsters sitting at one of the 12 or so tables lining the wall.

Being with my girls the menus (divided into three parts, appetizers, rice noodle soups, and cold vermicelli rice noodles) are hardly given a glance, it was beef pho with rice noodles all around.

Nothing on the menu is more than $6.75, so I could actually afford it despite the clean out earlier. Since it is a Vietnamese place run by Vietnamese people, the food is served in the traditional style - each dish comes when it's ready, and that is pretty quick.

As for the food, its fresh, its zippy, its vibrant. The light (beef) broth was lightly flavored and served in a GIGANTIC bowl. Enough food for three people. Vegetables (uncooked, shredded), bean sprouts, carrots, onions, are piled on top and there's a variety of spicy condiments on the tables, (peppers, fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, more peppers) and each dish comes with its own side of fresh herbs, thai basil, cilantro, mint and more. Pile it all on and have yourself a giddy slurp-fest.

We ate and laughed and enjoyed ourselves immensely. (Being hipsters and all) I recommend it for sure. But the question remains, was it Asian Persuasian, or, Persuasian by Asians...

Food: Yum
Prices: Super thrifty
Parking: Street or tiny lot. No valet
Would I Return: Already have

Pho Café 2841 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026


From Zagats: Thrifty hipsters converge at this Silver Lake Vietnamese whose kitchen cranks out “tasty” soups and other “flavorful” fare ferried by a “cranky staff”; the “mod” setting, though, may be “minimalist to a fault”, and the “cool” clientele may wish to wear sunglasses to deal with “harsh lighting” better suited to “performing surgery.”

According to a popular Japanese saying, Tokyo people ruin themselves by overspending on fine footwear, Kyoto people on fine clothing, and Osaka people on fine food. They are (have? suffer from?) kuidaore, meaning to eat oneself bankrupt.

Pho (pronounced fuh) beef noodle soup, is the national dish of Vietnam

Modern Vietnamese cuisine is heavily influenced by the French colonists. However, traditional Vietnamese cuisine is similar to Chinese cooking, only instead of using soy sauce, they use fish sauce almost exclusively. Vietnamese recipes use a lot of lemon grass, lime and kaffir lime. - Wikipedia


I LOVE that place. Just went there last week.
That was me up above. Oops.
This is mine and my fiance's favorite restaurant! Unfortunately we don't get to go often because we now live in London where the food is terrible and there are no Vietnemese restaurants. Could someone give me the best pho soup recipe? As close to taste as Pho Cafe as possible. I'm desperate to know how to make this at home in London.


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