Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Making Up Pho Lost Time: Pho 79

So I finally saw Star Wars, Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith this weekend. And it left me, well, hungry, amongst other things.

Unfortunately, all of the digital projection shows at the Arclight were sold out for the Memorial Day weekend and I despise the crowds at The Grove, so we decided to go to an 11am show at the Edwards Stadium Cinemas in Alhambra to see how Anakin turns to the Dark Side. Now I won't leave any spoilers for all you kiddies who haven't seen it yet, but I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong...I loved the story 'cause it tied everything up really well. I am, as you can probably already tell, somewhat of an old school Star Wars geek at heart. But other than that, horrible acting, cheesy love scenes, and the theatre we went to had terrible sound. Worst of all, I was STARVING by the time the movie let out at 1:30.

We were right in the heart of downtown Alhambra so there definitely wasn't a lack of places to eat. Not in the mood to be experimental, we chose to stroll down Garfield Ave. to our usual Alhambra pho joint, Pho 79. Walking into its geometrically 80's decorated dining space, we discovered that there was a short wait (there usually is a short wait during peak hours and weekends--this place is popular!) but we stayed and were seated within 5 minutes. Fortunately I've learned that tables at pho restaurants usually turn pretty fast.

No time to mess around--we were hungry, dammit--so we ordered with out really looking at the menu. Two bowls of Pho Dac Biet and an order of Imperial Rolls to start.

Like I said before, pho people are fast--our Imperial Rolls were out in a jiffy and our growling stomachs thanked the hunger gods. More widely known as Cha Gio or deep fried spring rolls, Pho 79's Imperial Rolls are delicious. The wrapper actually seems to be composed of a couple of really, really thin wrappers, contributing to its perfect crispiness: not too dough-y and not too delicate. Its minced pork filling was seasoned well with fish sauce and pepper and the vermicelli noodles, wood ear fungus, and mushrooms added a soft crunch. My favorite part of eating Vietnamese spring rolls, though, is wrapping each roll in the lettuce and seasonal herbs they provide and dipping the little pouch I made into the nuoc cham, a salty, tangy fish sauce-based dipping sauce with slivers of carrot.

The Empire didn't make these Imperial Rolls, Pho 79 did.

We weren't even done with our last few pieces of Imperial Roll when our bowls of Pho Dac Biet came out. You can usually order your pho with any combination of beef and beef parts--rare beef, rare and well cooked beef, tendon, well cooked beef and tendon, well cooked beef, tendon, and brisket. That's always too much for me to think about, so I just say *fuck it* and order the Pho Dac Biet time and time again, a special combination pho with rare and well cooked beef, brisket, tendon, and tripe--kind of a "pho with everything on it." Pho 79 makes a pretty good bowl of pho. The broth is dense with beef, ginger and anise flavor, not watered down at all. They give you a good proportion of meat and perfectly cooked rice noodles. The condiments--basil leaves, lime, jalapenos and bean sprouts--are always fresh and plentiful. Today, however, the meat to noodle ratio was a little off; there was a ton of meat in both our bowls and not enough noodles. Must've been a surplus in cows. Oh well, everyone is entitled to an off day.

Pho Shizzle: Pho Dac Biet

Well, with the exception to our really beefy bowls of pho, this meal more than made up for the 2 hrs and 20 minutes I spent watching the rise of Darth Vader. But like Pho 79, everyone deserves an off day once in awhile, and I will certainly forgive George Lucas for this so-so film for which I had higher expectations. Yes, my friends, the force is still with me.

Pho 79
29 S. Garfield Ave.
Alhambra, CA 91803
(626) 289-0239

1 comment:

MEalCentric said...

Sounds much better than my last bowl of pho. Lucky! BTW...I investigated Panera's bread. Sadly, just as bad as the sandwich. Take a look.