West LA: Getting Vietnamese Noodles at Nong La
On Sawtelle in West LA, there are a number of formidable Japanese restaurants. And up until Plan Check, J-food dominated. Sure, there was the random Korean tofu house, a Chinese place and some fusion-y places but the area was still crying out for something new. Enter Nong La Cafe, a cheery place good for small groups or single noodles slurpers at the counter.
Although I live on the East Side, I went west to try out Nong La. I have to admit, I am used to the San Gabriel Valley’s cheap eats and pricing. Nong La is about $2-3 more. Some would argue though it’s worth it so they don’t have to make that drive east. I hadn’t had Vietnamese food in a while and I really miss my now closed lunch spot.
I started with a fizzy limeade (soda chanh). I would need this and plenty of water later while eating my spicy noodles.
We got the Goi Cuon, spring rolls made with shrimp and pork. I found it a bit lacking in flavor. I was glad for the sauce which I could have spiked but my dining companion isn’t into spicy food. I would have actually gotten the Cha Gio (egg rolls) but I am starting to feel the effects of eating so much fried food lately and was trying to cut down.
My friend had the tai (rare beef) pho. She thought it was good but felt the noodles to beef ratio was in favor of the noodles. I watched her hunt for the precious beef and felt slightly guilty my bowl was fairly balanced.
I must confess, I have never actually had my own bowl of Bo Bun Hue. I usually get a combination pho when I have noodles at a Vietnamese place. Or I’d get a bowl of dry noodles. Bun Bo Hue always looked too spicy to me but I’ve been suffering from the Lingering Cough of Death and thought this would help clear out my system. When it arrived, I thought oh, pshhh…it’s not going to be spicy. It’s not the even blanket of red stuff I’ve seen.
It was really fiery hot. Spicy. Afterward, I was sweating so much and gulping my soda chanh and water by the glass. Sadly, it did not work any miracles cough wise but I enjoyed my bowl that night. There was plenty of bits of beef as well as the pork patty to enjoy and underneath that spicy note was a fragrant lemongrass that helped tame the broth.
I’d come back to try the dry noodles (bun) and rice dishes (com) the next time I’m on that side of town. They also have sandwiches (banh mi)