Pho Fight! Pho 89 VS Pho Saigon

Pho 89: eggrolls

The night I got in from London to LA was a miserable one. It was raining and it took a couple of hours to get through customs. By the time my brother picked me up, I was exhausted and wanted a comforting bowl of noodles. He took me to his favorite place, Pho 89 in Rosemead. We were grateful to be out of the rain and to warm our hands around cups of steaming tea. I decided I wanted something to nosh on while we waited though I don’t know why as I can never finish a bowl of pho anymore.

The eggrolls landed on our table, seemingly grease-free (good sign) but once I bit into one, I knew it wasn’t going to be my favorite eggroll. The insides were mush and reluctantly, I had to stop eating. I hate wasting food but I hate wasting stomach space.

#1 pho dac biet

I usually order pho dac biet which generally is the #1 item on the menu. It has all the bits I want along with cooked and rare beef. A few swirls in the hot broth and the pinkness will go away. I didn’t think this bowl had too much stuff in it but it did have plenty of noodles. After 10+ days of eating “lightly” in England and walking hours and hours, I thought my stomach shrunk. As it turned out, I think I just wasn’t feeling this bowl. I probably would return to try other stuff but as far as overtaking the many great pho shops along Garvey, this wasn’t cutting it.

Pho 89

8150 Garvey Ave # 101
Rosemead, CA 91770-2473
(626) 280-3638

Pho Saigon

Back in Downtown Los Angeles, I’ve noticed this pho shack near the 110 freeway. Situated in a sketchy strip mall at 17th & Hill, I’ve always wondered who goes there. It’s only open during the day for breakfast and lunch. I was talking about it one day with Lilikoi & Thyme and she immediately said we had to go and in fact she HAS GONE. Wha? Okay, then.

Pho Saigon: spring rolls

We started with some spring rolls. While absorbing the fact I was now sitting in the shack (actually, it’s very nice and the “shack” part is the wooden partition that shields the outside tables), I decided the only way to decide if it’s any good was to order the pho dac biet except this place didn’t call it that. And in fact, it was not the #1 item on the menu. Also, if you look closely, you’ll notice the menu is written in English and…Korean. Not Vietnamese. Looking around, it seemed most people were having shrimp fried rice.

charbroiled beef and shrimp over vermicelli

C ordered a bun mi (aka noodle salad, aka “vermicelli”) with charbroiled beef and shrimp.

pho dac biet

My bowl of pho had slices of eye-round steak, flank steak, brisket, tendon and tripe.  I noticed belatedly I could have gone with the special lunch deal that gave you a bowl with well-done brisket and eye-round steak along with two egg rolls and a drink for $8.95 (versus my bowl was $6.95). But then again, I love tripe and didn’t mind.

I found the soup to be lacking any depth. The noodles were good and there was quite a bit of meat to hunt around for. There was also the illicit thrill of finding a true hole-in-the-wall lunch spot. Would I go back? Yes. Would I go back because I found the food fantastic? Hmm, ask me again after I try more items.

Pho Saigon

1753 S. Hill St., #2

Los Angeles, CA 90015

213-746-0746 (PHO-0PHO– how cute)