Pho So 1 - Irvine
I remember eating at a Pho So 1 in either Reseda or Van Nuys or whatever mini-mall-blighted part of the San Fernando Valley I happened to be at the time. Point is I was visiting a friend, and he took me there after proclaiming that it was the only worthy Vietnamese place in the area. I don't remember much about the meal, except that I was hungry. I would have to assume that I liked it well enough, because when a Pho So 1 opened recently in Irvine, I immediately recognized the name.
The first thing I have to tell you about the Irvine Pho So 1 is that it looks un-Irvine. It has to be the most utilitarian dining space in the entire city--a pho joint, which like the best of them, doesn't bother with much decor. If there is pho in the distant utopian future where bald people in all-white jumpsuits have bar codes as nametags, the restaurant that serves it might look like this--clean, sleek, so large it echoes, and so brightly lit it wakes you up even before you order the ca phe sua da.
I like that it gets down to the basics, that there's not much to see or distract. You eat. You pay. You get out.
I ordered what I always order, which if you know me or this blog, isn't the pho, but the mi. And the broth is everything it always is: the same recipe for the sweet, salty, clear yellow soup that I've slurped at every pho joint and Vietnamese restaurant that serves the dish. The main differentiators are the toppings, and it is very good here. The roast pork is plentiful and thick, so tender and so soft it can be masticated by the toothless. The shrimp isn't overcooked and the noodles are still firm enough to be called al dente.
I didn't have the pho, but I did taste a sip of the broth and steal a few meats like the tripe and the tendon, and it was fine. A more thorough review of the pho will have to wait until I recover from what seems like a permanent case of pho-tigue.
Pho So 1
3831 Alton Pkwy. Ste. B
Irvine, CA 92606
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