I started eating my feelings again this past week. The world is falling apart and I’m drowning my sorrows in fish sauce. On our drive back from procuring pigs’ feet and pork floss at the San Gabriel Superstore this past weekend (I told you I have been eating my feelings), Vernon, June, and I stopped in to Pho Hai Kieu for lunch.
The three-year-old restaurant run by Chi Minh took over the former Chung King space and specializes in northern Vietnamese favorites. Considering the busy road on which the restaurant sits, it is quite peaceful inside the dining room.
We shared a trio of dishes between the three of us, because over-ordering is our favorite thing to do as a family. I was most looking forward to tasting the banh cuon ($5.50), rice flour crepes stuffed with ground pork, ground shrimp, and scallions and served with fish sauce, cha lua (pork forcemeat), bean sprouts, cucumber, and fresh mint.
The stuffing, slightly different from my family’s go-to ground pork and woodear mushrooms, was heavy on the black pepper in a great way. The thin, slippery crepes magically held on to the fish sauce.
Equally solid was the bun cha thit nuong Ha Noi ($8.50), grilled pork patties and pork bits in a vinegar-spiked broth with pickled carrots and papaya. Served alongside was a basket of fresh herbs and rice noodles.
The standout dish was the soul-warming chicken pho ($6.75). The pure and flavorful broth was truly tops, while the ginger fish sauce served on the side brightened the tender meat like only it could. I rarely choose chicken pho over beef, but Pho Hai Kieu has made me a convert. When it’s good, it’s so good!
As a bonus, the restaurant served the pho with scissors to snip the noodles for June without us having to ask. It’s the Vietnamese way.
Pho Hai Kieu
1000 South San Gabriel Boulevard
San Gabriel, CA 91776
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