In July 2008, I dined at Pho Ga Vietnam Kitchen with cousin Q's older brother. He had been in Singapore for business that year and tried the Hainanese chicken rice there. Though the Singaporean version was quite different from our family's version, he quite liked it and searched for a similar chicken rice here.
After trying out the usual suspects: Savoy Kitchen (Blech!) and Dong Nguyen Restaurant and Banh Cuon Hai Nam Saigon (Tastes similar to our family's version.), we ended up at Pho Ga Vietnam Kitchen in San Gabriel because I noticed the huge sign that proclaimed they served Hainanese chicken rice.
A very brief menu.
Well, with two large signs, what else could we order but the sugarcane juice and Hainanese chicken rice?
But first, we started off with Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup), $5.95, which came with the usual plate of basil, bean sprouts, lime wedge, and jalapeno slices. We also got a little saucer of Nuoc Mam Gung (Vietnamese Ginger Fish Sauce) for dipping the chicken pieces in.
I liked the hand-shredded pieces of chicken, the giblets, and the soft noodles. What was also unusual in this version was the fresh added Hanh Phi (Vietnamese Fried Shallots), which gave the soup an extra oomph. This was actually a really good bowl of chicken pho, when I generally prefer the beef version. Unfortunately, the dark grayish color should have clued me in.
The Hainanese chicken rice, $5.95, came with clear broth and another dipping saucer of ginger fish sauce.
The rice was pretty flavorful and the chicken was just right, firm yet tender.
We also got three cups of fresh squeezed sugarcane juice. How could we pass it up when it was $2.25, buy 2 get 1 free?
As we left, I noticed that underneath the sign for Hainanese chicken rice, they serve Vikon Chicken otherwise known as the fresh chicken from Chinese American Live Poultry - Rosemead.
The chicken in the soup and rice tasted so good because it came locally and freshly slaughtered. The texture and flavor is top-notch because that's where my family gets our chicken too.
Except, the restaurant used too much MSG in their food. My cousin and I both felt thirsty and tired afterward. We both ended up taking naps. So, even though the food was quite good going down, the aftereffects have kept me from going back. If you don't have MSG sensitivities, then it won't be a problem for you, because the pho and chicken rice were pretty good.
November 17, 2012 Update: This restaurant is now closed.
Other chicken rice restaurants:
Banh Cuon Hai Nam Saigon - Alhambra
Dong Nguyen Restaurant - Alhambra
Savoy Kitchen - Alhambra
Pho Ga Vietnam Kitchen
741 E. Valley Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Monday and Tuesday 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday to Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
1 year ago today, Ute dance performances and a Navajo Code Talker at the Cortez Cultural Center - Cortez - Colorado.
2 years ago today, Pasta Pomodoro (Italian Tomato Pasta).
3 years ago today, basil seed drink.