Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Hot For Bun: Pho 999, North Hollywood
The Valley won't freeze over...get some bun!
On a warm San Fernando Valley afternoon, the last thing you wanna do is eat something that makes you hotter. Sweating like a pig in business attire (or anything for that matter) is uncomfortable and way unattractive. So you'd think that I have some sick masochistic side for wanting to go to Pho 999 on a hot summer day. You know...a big bowl of hot, hearty, steamy soup with beef and rice noodles with spicy basil, chiles and sriracha to add more heat, the only cool thing being your bean sprouts and lime...in 90+ degree North Hollywood, it'd be like having a roll in the hay with Fat Bastard from Austin Powers. Ooooh, sexy.
Lucky for you, I'm not as twisted as you might think, for Pho 999 also has loads of cold foods to feast on. There's the popular goi cuon, the "un-fried" Vietnamese spring rolls of shrimp, grilled pork, vermicelli, lettuce and mint wrapped in rice paper. Pho 999's goi cuon are decent, tightly wrapped with a good balance of meat and vegetables. Its accompanying dipping sauce, nuoc leo, a peanutty hoisin-like sauce, is a bit too much on the peanutty side for me.
Whenever it's over 80 outside (which is almost always in the Valley), I opt for one of Pho 999's bun, or vermicelli dishes. You can get bun with many combinations of toppings: bun cha gio has sliced fried eggroll, bun thit heo nuong has slices of grilled pork, bun cha gio thit heo nuong, the one I usually order, has sliced eggroll AND slices of grilled pork. There's also bun with charbroiled beef, shrimp paste, charbroiled beef with shrimp paste, the combinations are endless. Each bowl of bun comes is assembled over cool lettuce, with a heap of rice vermicelli noodles, its respective topping, pickled daikon and carrots, peanuts and scallions. To add flavor and moisture, you get a small bowl of nuoc cham, a salty, tangy sauce made primarily of fish sauce. It's cool, and much more filling and tasty than many salads, I must say!
And if you're hot AND tired, try a ca-phe phin sua da, iced Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk. Pho 999 serves theirs like many Vietnamese restaurants do, with individual filters atop each cup. A glass of condensed milk and ice waits for you to pour in the coffee that slowly drip, drip, drips out of its filter. The result is some good, strong coffee that's sweet and slightly caramelly--a cool, caffeinated treat.
See, now you're one step closer to surviving a summer in the Valley! Now if you don't have A/C, well, sorry chum, can't help you there.
12905 Sherman Way
North Hollywood, CA 91605