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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.
Pho Huynh 3
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.
Pho Huynh 1
Well, there's also a selection of drinks to choose from.
Pho Huynh 2
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.
Pho Huynh 4
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.
Pho Huynh 5
Here's another shot of the very generous portion of noodles.
Pho Huynh 6
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.
Pho Huynh 7
Here's the bowl after I added the meat.
Pho Huynh 8
Notice the wider rice noodles? That's another difference between Northern and Southern styles.
Pho Huynh 9
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.
Pho Huynh 10
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 626-350-6688 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.


  1. Hi WC,

    If it wasn't so hot, I would so want a bowl of pho for dinner. Have you tried Pho Filet located down the street? Although I prefer Pho 54(on Valley in Rosemead)for their pho dac biet, Pho Filet actually uses filet mignon for their pho tai (sliced rare beef). It is sliced thicker than most tai, but allows for a beefier sweet flavor and oh so tender. Best to order the tai on the side and dunk into the bowl yourself. I find their soup heavy on cinammon flavor, which I'm not a big fan of, otherwise its pretty good.

  2. I think I've been here once, but I don't remember. Whenever I go home my parents usually want to go to this other pho place called Viet Huong further down east on Garvey. I love the menus at that restaurant...they are in English, Chinese, Vietnamese AND Spanish, haha.

  3. I miss Vietnamese food...the ones I love is in SFO!

  4. Yum Cha Girl,
    I didn't know there was a filet mignon pho place around there. I'll have to try it out and see how it compares to Pho Thanh Lich. Thanks for the tip!

    I've never tried Viet Huong. So many places to try!

    The VNese food is better in SoCal than NorCal. Trust!

  5. thanks for all these pho posts. I've had pho quite a few times, I just never really know if they're any good in the genuine sense. They all taste good, some have more flavor than others, but I'm still a novice at figuring out good pho from just OK.

  6. Marvin,
    Like anything, it just takes eating a lot before you figure it out.

  7. Hi Wandering Chopsticks,

    I didn't find your Pho Filet review, but I did find this Pho Huyuh review. I believe both place are on the same street very close to each other which I'll check out.

    Does Pho Filet have Filet Mignon (which the name of the place sounded like it has)?

    Which type of pho do you like better? The thicker ones from Northern or the thinner ones from Southern? To be honest, I'm always getting the thinner ones, so I'll have to check the ones that you have on the bottom pictures with the filet mignon.

    Thanks again for the tips on these two places in SGV!

  8. Pepsi Monster,
    That's because I haven't gotten around to writing my Pho Filet post yet. :) I like the broth at Pho Filet more because there's more cinnamon and I like strong spices. The filet mignon is also in slices. Pho Huynh's filet mignon is Northern-style, which is minced beef. Very tender, but I prefer beef slices. Both are good though!

  9. Hey Wandering Chopsticks,

    I'll race you to the next Pho Filet review if that get you motivated enough to write the next review! LOL

    You know, I might need to do a pho crawl along the Garvey avenue to cover these two spots. :P

  10. Pepsi Monster,
    Haha. That doesn't challenge me. I get to things in my own sweet time. :)

    There's at least four other pho restaurants along this corridor I've got to try...

    But here and Pho Filet are the only filet mignon pho places I know of in the SGV.

  11. I will try to have Pho at this restaurant since I trust your taste! :-) I will let you know though [I am very picky when it comes to Pho] :-)

    Thanks for posting, Wandering Chopstick.

  12. Coo1,
    Whoo. That's a lot of pressure. I'm not nearly as picky with my pho so I hope you like it then!


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