Kim Huong - Tustin
When my heart aches, when my brain is fried, when all hope seems lost, I turn to noodle soup. It soothes me more than any other meal, more than any other remedy. It blunts the harshness of life, stamps down those prickly thoughts that make my hair stand on end. All it takes is a few sips and a slurp.
Here, in a humble bowl of starch and soup, is the antidote -- my personal anti-depressant.
And it doesn't even have to be particularly great to do the job. I once bought a mediocre bowl of saimin from a Hawaiian take-out joint. The broth tasted like it was diluted from a seasoning packet, the noodles were mushy, and it came with nothing but boiled cabbage. Yet, it was exactly what I needed, at exactly the right time, like a faithful friend.
What it does need to be is hot. Rocket hot. Steaming, billowing, blow-on-it-before-you-sip hot. When it's served, I should be able to put my face over the bowl and feel the warmth of its vapors on my cheeks.
Also, it must be cheap. Nothing over $10 is acceptable. The sweet spot is between $5 and $7. Lower, of course, is always better.
The chicken pho (pho ga) at Kim Huong fulfills both requirements. It's $3.10, served up fast and fuming.
Tangled up with the silken ribbons of rice noodle will be boiled chicken leg, bone intact, skin attached; or if I'm lucky, also a few slices of breast meat.
It's decent, honest, acts like a blanket that warms from the inside -- and that's all it needs to be.
Kim Huong serves other things, too. There are steam trays stocked with an impressive array of dishes that all look very well-prepared. I bought a spring roll for $0.45 to go with my noodles, and it was as good as any I've ever had.
The only problem is that the place closes promptly at 6 P.M. So when I need the curative powers of a hot bowl, I have to rush out of the office by 5. Or else it's lunch. But usually with it, I can coast for the rest of the afternoon, basking in its after effects -- long enough to last until I can crawl back into bed.
17311 McFadden Ave # B
Tustin, CA 92780
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