Soul in a Bowl, part II
In my first Soul in the Bowl post, I pondered life’s simple pleasures. For me, a bowl of noodles is definitely the way to go.
My original plan to check out Uraguay Cafe before heading over to Gioia for burrata was busted when they didn’t open in time. All around were a billion pho shops. Our eyes landed on the one across the street. I’ve been to Pho Huynh before as part of my Oodles of Noodles adventures. I was trying to discover who had the best bowl of rare filet mignon pho. My Noodles Partner wasn’t keen on the pho being served in metallic bowls, likening it to a dog bowl. But the regular pho apparently gets served in normal plastic bowls. I ordered the #1 which had everything. It even had meatballs. This was the first time a pho shop included meatballs as part of the combination and I was very pleased. I hoarded those things like precious gold and would eat the other bits I wasn’t so fond of first (like tendon).Yes, I realize the meatball probably had tendon in it…so, what’s your point?
Although the broth was light, I felt incredibly thirsty afterward. I probably still would come back because the shop was clean, they weren’t rushing us and I enjoyed my bowl.
Watching my table mates eat their pho reminds me how it’s such a personal thing. I’ve never been one to squeeze sauce into my broth. I tend to taste it first then prepare a condiment dish with the holy trinity of sauces. Each dip of the meat gave me a taste of sweet, spicy and more spice. I loved adding a squeeze of lime andsliced chili peppers to the bowl. After preparing my bowl, I then would attack my bowl only to realize just how many noodles there were. Pho is so incredibly fulling but on more levels than just your tummy.
9706 Garvey Ave
El Monte, CA 91733-1226
I’ve been to the Kim Ky on Garvey recently as part of my Chiu Chow noodles FACE OFFs. I found the place extremely busy and the location on San Gabriel was no different. However, the people seemed friendlier. They said I could sit down at a booth while waiting for my friend. Usually they won’t allow you to sit until most of your party if not all were there. And then the lady who brought our steaming bowls of noodles told me how pretty I was. Hey, I’ll take a compliment with noodles.
After eating assorted meat and shrimp bowls all around town, I decided to go with the fish and shrimp egg noodles. My friend had the popular assorted meat and shrimp. She didn’t seem into the broth and I could tell hers looked a little different from the other location of Kim Ky. Namely this one didn’t seem to have as much fried shallots.
Mine was pretty good but very oily. I did finally find a Chiu Chow place that had crushed peanuts in their satay sauce though! But this meant an even oilier broth once I dumped in a couple of spoonfuls. There was not much heat to the broth so you’re welcome to add a myriad of sauces from chili sauce to marinated peppers.
Given the choice of the two, I preferred the noodles at the Garvey location but liked the San Gabriel one more just a tad more for other things. I didn’t find soul in my bowl but I found a real warmness that is hard to find sometimes in the SGV.
1108 S San Gabriel Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
I love bean sprouts. The two bowls pictured above had whack bean sprouts. They were kind of ugly, a bit limp but I ate them anyway. Oh yes, I love bean sprouts. But I was overjoyed when I discovered the really fresh bean sprouts in my bun mi from Pho So 1 yesterday. I watched the neighboring table squeeze Siracha all over their bean sprouts that came separately from their bowls of pho. That was interesting, I hadn’t seen people eat bean sprouts like that before. Maybe they love bean sprouts more than I do!
In high school, I had my first bowl of bun mi. I loved the combination of pork, shrimp and eggroll. For the most part, if I can’t find this particular combo, I ask for an eggroll. The ones at Pho So 1 in Reseda were very blistered looking which meat a great eggroll that wasn’t greasy.
Since it was so hot, I opted for bun mi which is served with a bowl of fish sauce. I added a little Siracha and hoisin sauce to it and dipped my eggrolls in before pouring the rest into my bowl. I usually like hot soupy noodles but bun mi is the one “cold” noodle dish I like. These noodles came with chopped up peanuts, bits of pickled veggies, cucumber and my lovely bean sprouts. Each mouthful was a delightful textural bite.
I’ve been coming to this location off and on the last 5 years with my best friend. It’s her favorite pho shop in the Valley. I dare not suggest going next door to Pho 999. Through the years, we’ve watched them expand from a somewhat cluttered shop to what it is now. I counted three big screen TVs, sleek artwork and they have an electronic ordering system for the servers. And after checking out their website, I discovered this location was the original one and now they have locations in Las Vegas, Oxnard, Gardena and all around the Valley.
I almost want to call this place Pho SoUL 1. Definitely the best bowl of this post.
7231 Reseda Blvd
Reseda, CA 91335