Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pho Ba Co - Irvine

I've no idea why Pho Bac in Irvine changed its name to Pho Ba Co. But you know what? I don't care. There might have been an ownership change or perhaps not. There are still other Pho Bac's around, namely Pho Bac Ky in Tustin and another in Irvine, on University.

But this one, which is the original that bred the others, has done steady business for years. It is arguably the most consistently popular pho joint in Irvine. The fact that I had to wait for a seat proves that it will continue to be.

Apart from the new logo, which depicts who I presume are the three female owners immortalized in cartoon form in a Charlie's Angels pose, the menu looks unchanged. There are still the endless permutations of pho (brisket, rare beef, tendon, etc.)--enough to keep busy the Irvinite who's too lazy to schlep it to Little Saigon.

As usual, I wasn't there for the pho. It was the special combo for me, which employed crinkly egg noodle instead of the white rice and a clear pork/chicken broth instead of their beef. Included in the soup, as it always has, is a fried wonton skin disc and a leaf of butter lettuce. The former is half submerged in the soup, which I save for last as long as I can, squirting Sriracha on it when I can't wait any longer.

The best part of the dish is actually the meatballs. Textured with bits of chewy tendon in it, they taste like they were homemade. Those haven't changed. What has changed is the way you can take your bowls. There used to be one size offered: large. If you're thinking of doing the dish, opt for it. The small is almost like an appetizer bowl of noodle soup and will not satiate. You will most certainly end up bumming off more food from whoever you are dining with.

After I finished the last drop, my chopsticks wandered over to my tablemate's rice plate, whereupon I noticed a few other things have changed. They're now serving yellow rice instead of just the plain. Also, the pho broth included for sipping isn't as lip-smackingly salty as it used to be.

By the end of it all, we were too full to order the Black Sea drink, a pandan and black jelly dessert slushie-thingy that we always make a point to order at the start of the meal but never get to when we finish. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Pho Ba Co
4250 Barranca Parkway
Irvine, CA 92604-1733
(949) 857-8808

Inka Grill - Costa Mesa


At 8:59 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

Good to know that now if I ever visit UCI first and don't want to drive back to Little Saigon I have a Vietnamese place to eat at! Never have seen yellow rice available at a Vietnamese place. But's that is due to my lack of knowledge in that part even if I read plenty of Vietnamese food blogs!

At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pho Ba Co, I love that name, it means 3 ladies in vietnamese, which all the ladies are beautiful, with excellent food of course. Also, there other sister location are extremely excellent also, Red Hill in Tustin, and changing there name to Pho Tasia at University Dr. and Michelson. The Best Vietnamese Pho Restaurant i

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the name change, it means 3 ladies in vietnamese. They are beautiful ladies with excellent food of course. Also, there other sister restaurant location is Red Hill in Tustin, and changing there name to Pho Tasia at University and Michelson are excellent. The best vietnamese pho restaurant in Irvine.

At 5:40 AM, Anonymous Das Ubergeek said...

That must have changed very recently... I'm down on Barranca and Yale Loop three times a week and it was Pho Bac as recently as 3 weeks ago.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Yes, the yellow rice seems to be something unique to this chain. The one in Tustin does it with their chicken skewer special. I can't say I like it more than just plain white, because sometimes you just want what you know and grew up know?


Would you happen to know why the change occurred? It seems that other than the name and slight tweaks in the menu, there was no reason for it. Even the waiters are the same!


You're right. It just happened. Probably within a few days of this post. I'm hoping Anonymous could shed some light on any gossip or just general info. Either way, any changes in flavor were nominal.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

that food looks really good were is this.. Im hoping you will say its a chain restraint and there in orlando and akron ohio

At 3:56 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Sorry, it's in Irvine...California...but the weather is nice!


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