Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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
(949) 251-8829

Boiling Point - Irvine


At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on MM mi at a pho joint? LOL
Go to Pho Kimmy on Bushard on the corner of Bolsa and see if you can get mi ;-)


At 9:16 AM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

Um, I would say this place is "Un-Irvine" if you compare it with American restaurants but it fits right in with all the Chinese restaurants in the area...

At 9:40 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Guilty as charged! But after the pho tourney of last year (Read it HERE!), I'm still kind of tired of pho (if I wasn't already)...besides, after that exercise I figure any pho that's not Pho Thanh Lich just doesn't cut it!

Though, I do keep hearing about this Pho Kimmy. Perhaps it's time I try it.


True, but compared to Pho Ba Co and Pho Saigon Pearl, Pho So 1 feels more like a Little Saigon establishment, at least to me...Pho Ba Co and Pho Saigon Pearl feel nicer, cozier. Pho So 1 feels, well, more Westminster? If that makes any sense...

At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear ya MM.
When I cook a pot of pho it ain't small. I usually end up freezing the left over soup for next time.


At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do agree the lack of decor is of little value. LOL


At 11:47 AM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

Hell, I'll go one further and say that spending too much time/money on décor can adversely hurt you. Look at Chef Hung (http://www.yelp.com/biz/chef-hung-taiwanese-beef-noodle-irvine). Because of where they're located and the need to have upscale décor, their beef noodle soup is in the $10 range. Ya, for the casual American diner that might be alright but for Chinese people? That's usually a pass.

My own father's a great example, we've been to Chef Hung's twice and haven't been back. Not because the beef noodle's not good, but it's not $10 good when there is so much competition in other parts of Irvine (not to mention around Southern California).

At 4:33 PM, Blogger NP said...

I burned out on Pho when I lived in the Bay Area and used to go to the $3 Tung Kee chain; for $3 NO COMPLAINTS; but you get sick of it and the "odd meat cuts" in your Pho; but couldn't complain about the price and how quick the place was to get served.

Plus they didn't care if you were Vietnamese, non Vietnamese Asian, White, Indian, .... A lot of Pho places I go to in Orange County give you real tude.


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