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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra

I wonder if other people eat like I, or my family, do? That's not to say we don't set up dates to go out. More often than not though, what usually happens is I, or they, get hungry, and depending on the craving or the time, call up various cousins or friends. They do the same. Occasionally, if someone comes into town, we do a round-up and see who's available. Sometimes it's just a few people, or four, or six, or a dozen.

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra 1

Such was the case a few days after cousin Q's older brother's wedding. He was leaving for his honeymoon late that evening. Cousin T and her husband were flying back up to Oregon that afternoon. So we decided on Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine in Alhambra since we were converging from three different places. After splitting up the calls to round-up the clan, we ended up with a dozen people.

While I was waiting for them to pull together two big tables to accommodate us, I noticed at the artwork on the wall. Of course, my awful photos don't do the real photos any justice. The photographer is Tony Nguyen Campobello of TNC Fotos in case anyone's interested.

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra 2

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra 3

The regular-sized bowl is $4.75, super bowl is $5.25, special super bowl with all the meats is $5.95.

So what exactly makes this a "super bowl"? There's more add-ins than I've ever seen at any other pho restaurant. For purists, you can still get your basic Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) with various cuts of beef or Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup). There's also seafood, shrimp, and vegetarian pho. Or you can add in broccoli, tofu, and/or charbroiled chicken or beef. The kid's meal option includes a small soft drink. The options are mind-boggling, aren't they? Do they use peanuts in their broth? Because there's no add-in price beside it.

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra 4

Cousin T ordered Bun Thit Nuong, Tom, Cha Gio (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli with Grilled Beef, Shrimp, and Egg Rolls) for $5.25. Her quick verdict? Good, but the shrimp was a bit overcooked and dry.

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra 5

Cousin E ordered grilled beef with rice for $4.75.

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra 6

Cousin Q's older brother ordered pho ga with charbroiled chicken. I thought they'd shred the grilled chicken into the soup, thus bringing a smoky flavor to the broth. Serving it on the side just seems anti-climatic.

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra 7

My brother got the regular size bowl of pho bo, which was rather small. Everyone else did too. Yeah, we're all purists.

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra 8

Guess I'm a pig because I ordered the special super bowl. The bowl itself actually wasn't that large, but it was chock-full of lots of meat and noodles. The broth, if you'll notice, was murky and an odd brownish-gray. It tasted fine, but after eating three-quarters of the bowl, the color seemed to get the best of me.

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra 9

We got free dessert - che dau xanh (Vietnamese mung bean pudding with tapioca pearls).

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra 10

Pho Super Bowl was alright. I think it occupies this huge middling tier of just good restaurants for me. Neither a place I'd specifically crave, but I wouldn't turn down an invite to it.

The prices are very reasonable, service was very good, and the waiters all speak English. I could see non-Vietnamese customers being attracted to their non-traditional pho offerings. If you're looking for seafood or vegetarian pho, or want lots of add-ons, then this will probably be more to your liking.

Are you a pho purist?

Is it just my family? Who with and how do you go out and eat?

Other restaurants along Main St./Las Tunas Dr.:
Aji Man Japanese Restaurant - San Gabriel
Golden Deli Vietnamese Restaurant - San Gabriel
Luscious Dumplings Inc. - San Gabriel
Vietnam House Restaurant - San Gabriel
Vietnam Restaurant - San Gabriel
Vietnam Restaurant (Bo 7 Mon (7 Courses of Beef)) - San Gabriel

Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine
1300 E. Main St., #105
Alhambra, CA 91801
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

1 year ago today, Hop Woo BBQ Seafood Restaurant - Alhambra.
2 years ago today, Thai Nakorn in Garden Grove burned down. :(


  1. mmmm, Pho! I just returned from Vietnam and am already missing my morning bowl. Curious, though, I've never seen a US/Vietnamese restaurant open for breakfast. If there were one in Boston, you would have found me there this morning!

  2. Gosh, I cant believe a bowl of pho is still so cheap over there! In VA it's 6-7 bucks a bowl!

  3. To tell the truth, going out with my family is a nightmare. Mom only eats Asian food, but is so picky whenever we go any place. Stepdad is the pickiest eater I've ever met, and he won't touch anything Asian except fried rice and that's only sometimes. Brother won't touch a single vegetable (he's 28). When we're together, we can never agree on a place so we eat in.

    I wish my family were more like yours about eating out.

    Ironically, here in PDX I go out more with my girlfriends than I do Hubby. Girlfriends and I have a standing girl's night on Tuesdays. Hubby is the babysitter :-)

  4. Wow, this is a pretty good deal! They seem to put a plenty of veggies on the side. Haven't really seen anyone put shredded carrot on the same plate as the beef rice but have seen it put on the side, so this was interesting :).

    I agree that broth looks pretty murky, which is kind of unusual. Wonder what they put into the soup which would give it that color!

    I like the dessert, but I like anything tapioca really. Finally tried che a few weeks ago and it was yummy! Lots of ingredients though were pretty unusual for me.

  5. I love Pho especially Pho Bo..yumzz...i used to have Pho for lunch twice a week and never get sick of it. That was when i was studying in Australia. Hard to find good Pho in Malaysia and sadly, they are stingy with the beef here.

  6. Broccoli in pho?? Vegetarian pho?!? Zoiks! I guess that makes me a purist.

  7. I continue to be awed by the selection of Vietnamese and other Asian cuisine you have access to out there in CA. I am supremely jealous :)

    At least I will get some delicious Vietnamese food when I attend the Vietnamese church's Tet festivities!

  8. I am by no means a pho purist. I don't eat beef so I make a vegetarian version of pho at home using a recipe from elliemay.com as inspiration.

    It's funny to see this post on your blog because I was going to post about my vegetarian version soon!

  9. ehmmmm...the bowls really seem smaller than normal. i don't mind murky colored broth...but i totallly hateeeeeee overcooked shrimps hehe

  10. Julia,
    There's lots of pho restaurants open for breakfast on the West Coast. There's even a 24-hr pho restaurant in Little Saigon.

    $6 to $7 here gets you filet mignon pho. :)

    My family have our preferences, but generally we're not that picky. And eating out for us is a form of socializing. It's when we catch up with each other.

    I've almost always been served the pickled carrots and daikon when I order rice plates. It basically serves as a salad.

    Perhaps it's time to try making your own pho? :) You can do it!

    Jan Frederick,
    I can't get over pho with broccoli or seafood, although vegetarian pho is traditional.

    I think I really live here for the food. :P

    Bonbon and Sapid,
    Actually, vegetarian pho is traditional. It's the broccoli and seafood that's unusual. :P

    I hate overcooked shrimp too. Haha. :)

  11. My family are much more formal about our eating out arrangementss ... well, someone sends everyone an email and they organise the meal out. I'm not sure how we organised things before email! All my family still invite me to sunday lunch or restaurants out, even though the commute would be hell. My nephew is starting to email me sporadically, "I'm eating banh mi thit," or "I'm eating pho at cu's house." Charming of him, really.

    There is a huge Viet clan in Brisbane - some of whom were my friends in high school and some of whom despised me in high school (you can't win 'em all, now, can you) - who regularly have meals like your clan do. I would run into them at Viet restaurants and they'd all still be on their mobiles or texting to try to find out if any more were showing up. Quite a few times I turned up at restaurants (usually with just my partner) to find out there was no room for only the two of us because this clan had taken all the tables!

    I think I'm too much of a loner to operate like that though.

  12. Oanh,
    I think it's sweet that your family still includes you in the emails. I bet it makes you feel connected, yet bittersweet to be so far away too.

    My family doesn't get together that often, so I hope you don't seem like that clan. That can be a bit much if you're not used to it.


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