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Pho Café or Faux Café? Pho Café

by pkafka (writer), Eagle Rock, March 19, 2007

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Los Angeles is the only city where there is thin line between not trying at all and trying way too hard. For me, Pho Café in Silverlake acts as the perfect proof for this claim.

At first glance, Pho Café captures the essence of the outskirts of Hollywood. The clientele is easy to classify in one sense, but very hard in another. I can not tell if the people who frequent Pho are professional bohemians or bohemian professionals. I feel like this place either caters to some of the coolest people in LA, or some of the biggest posers.

Like the clientele, the décor and menu of the restaurant keep me wondering. One would never expect a chic, minimalist, Philippe Starck like design job to be home to a menu that contains beef balls, tendon, and tripe. However, Pho Café can erase that belief.

Like most traditional Vietnamese restaurants, Pho Café serves the classics – Vietnamese spring rolls, vermicelli noodles, and Pho with steak, chicken, tendon, tripe, or beef balls. The menu is what I would call authentic. I feel as if the menu does not even take into consideration what a typical client would want; the restaurant simply serves what is authentic. There are no culinary twists to these basic dishes; in fact, each table is stocked with five different sauces so that you can create a broth that is to your liking.

Each order of Pho is accompanied by a plate consisting of basil, mint leaves, jalapeños, lime, and bean sprouts, which are all flavorful additions. Before being impressed and intrigued by the food, the drink selections had a similar effect. I ordered a pot of fresh ginger tea, and my friend ordered the wild chrysanthemum tea; the ginger tea was brewed using freshly sliced ginger, and the chrysanthemum tea was brewed with the actual flowers. We were both very impressed by the preparation and natural ingredients that resulted in these teas; un-coincidentally, the flavors reflected their preparation. After dinner, we both enjoyed the Vietnamese iced coffee, although the flavor was not exceptionally unique, it was a prefect completion to the spicy meal that had us sweating bullets. We also noted that the menu had a nice array of Asian bears and even offered a type of sake.

Even though we did not indulge in any alcoholic beverages, our experience at Pho was somewhat mind-altering. I do not know if it was the minimalist and surreal surroundings, the chewy texture of the tendon, the unbelievably fast service, or the close quarters with people who made me feel like I was on the set of an independent film, but Pho Café really threw me off.

With the differences between appearance and product, I do not exactly know what Pho is going for, but whatever it is, it works. Ironically, the restaurant leaves me wondering the same thing that the majority of the clientele does – is this for real?

Initially, I could not tell whether Pho Café was a hip place trying to be Vietnamese or a Vietnamese place trying to be hip. I also could not tell whether the customers were there for the food or for the scene. It just so happens that Pho is a hip Vietnamese place that attracts people with its design and dishes.

Overall, I enjoyed the meal. The food was authentic and after some experimenting with sauces, it also became very flavorful. However the meal is not the only thing that will keep me coming back. There is something about this place that is intoxicating. Like I said, I don’t know if it was the people, the menu, the décor, or the combination of them all, but Pho Café has me hooked – without even trying.

Pho Cafe
2841 West Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, 90026
(213) 413-0888
Daily 11am-12am


About the Writer

pkafka is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Pho Café or Faux Café? Pho Café

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By Annonymous on March 19, 2007 at 07:31 pm
I am also enthralled with the unique and relaxing scene of Pho Cafe. It is a great experience every time I eat there...I have even ran into a couple celebrities which makes it interesting as well. Great Stuff!
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By Steven Lane on March 19, 2007 at 10:12 pm
Good review, I love beef but I will pass on chewing on tendon. lol
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By Annonymous on March 19, 2007 at 10:23 pm
Speaking of celebrities...I saw Benecio Del Toro last time I ventured to Pho!
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