Monday, May 05, 2008
Pho Huynh Vietnamese Restaurant - South El Monte
So while I'm on the subject of pho and eating out with cousin Q and his brothers, their dad's favorite pho restaurant is Pho Huynh in South El Monte. There is an even mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Latino businesses on this section of Garvey Avenue from El Monte/South El Monte to Rosemead. Tito's Market - El Monte, where I stop in for Argentinian empanadas, is just a few doors down. This is a decidedly working class neighborhood with a clientele that wants simple, tasty food.
And even though the restaurant is in a working-class neighborhood, the interior was surprisingly clean and welcoming.
Don't be deterred by the auto shop next door. Unlike other pho restaurants that might offer a slew of dishes to tempt your palate, Pho Huynh offers only Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup), but in 22 different ways. And no, there's not even Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) to divert from the beefy offerings.
Well, there's also a selection of drinks to choose from.
Sure other restaurants offer those same variations of beef parts for your pho bo, but serving other dishes means the kitchen staff gets distracted cooking those other dishes. No such problem here.
The complimentary plate of Thai basil, bean sprouts, jalapenos, and limes.
We all ordered the Pho Huynh dac biet (special), which came with beef slices, brisket, flank, meatballs, tendon, and tripe for $5.25. The hallmark of a good bowl of pho should be a dark but clear broth. The darkness comes from simmering the bones and spices for a long time. A clear broth is from skimming out impurities. Combined, you'll get a rich flavor without it tasting fatty. Some places skimp on the long simmering process and add packaged seasonings or MSG to make up for the flavor. You can tell that doesn't happen here because the quality of the broth really came through. No wonder it's my youngest uncle's favorite pho restaurant.
Here's another shot of the very generous portion of noodles.
For a really flavorful, but still light-tasting broth, Pho Huynh is really one of the best pho restaurants around.
May 21, 2008 Update: On a recent visit, I finally paid attention to #22 pho Bac dac biet (Northern-style special pho, the special is filet mignon) for $6.50.
Pho Bac, as it originated in the North, uses less spices in the broth, wider noodles, minced beef, and only scallions and onions. The plate of bean sprouts, Thai basil, sawtooth herb, lime, and hoisin sauce and chili sauce are Southern additions.
Remembering how the filet mignon slices came out cooked at Pho Thanh Lich, I ordered the filet mignon on the side so it wouldn't be overcooked. I was surprised when the meat came out lightly minced. Then I remembered that's how the beef was served in Hanoi.
Maybe it was because I was with my dad and aunts and uncles this time, but they also brought out nuoc beo hanh (Vietnamese greasy broth scallions) on the far upper left, and slices of hanh dam (Vietnamese vinegared onions) on the upper right.
Here's the bowl after I added the meat.
Notice the wider rice noodles? That's another difference between Northern and Southern styles.
After seeing me take pictures, my second-youngest uncle insisted I take a photo of his bowl of pho bo vien tai rieng (Vietnamese beef noodle soup with meatballs, rare beef on the side). Don't the slices of rare beef look so much more appetizing than the minced filet mignon? Although it tasted tender, I'd rather the filet mignon be served in slices.
Other filet mignon pho restaurants:
Pho Filet Vietnamese Restaurant - South El Monte
Pho Thang Long Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon)
Pho Thanh Lich Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon)
Pho Huynh Vietnamese Restaurant
9706 E. Garvey Ave.
South El Monte, CA 91733
Open Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1 year ago today, a little lesson on ancestor worship and my great-grandfather's death anniversary dinner.