Chinatown’s Pho 87: Un-pho-gettable

Diehard fans of pho, the Vietnamese delicacy of rice noodles and a rich broth, are flocking to an unassuming office building in the shadow of Dodger Stadium.

Pho 87 seems to be Chinatown’s worst-kept secret. Why wouldn’t it be when the food is this good?

I opened a glass door on the ground floor, no password required. I was greeted by a koi pond and two large flat-screen TVs showing an Olympic volleyball match.

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The place bustled with an eclectic mix of young and old, hipsters and working-class locals. As I took my seat, the friendly staff chatted and cheered with eaters watching the game.

The service was fast and it wasn’t long before my imperial egg rolls arrived. They were fried to crispy perfection on the outside and packed with savory pork on the inside.

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I left just enough room for the main dish: a small no.4 pho with well-done brisket. The broth was the star of the show. Aromatic, crisp and clean. The tender beef was plentiful and gave the broth a smoky taste without overwhelming its other notes of cilantro and onion.

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I tried my hand at the chopsticks provided. Novices like me need not worry. Plastic spoons were also on hand. Thankfully, I didn’t get any dirty looks for slurping my noodles and broth.

The dish was served with a side of sriracha, barbecue sauce and sliced jalapenos that gave my meal a nice kick. Bean sprouts were another side if you prefer an added crunch.

For just under 10 bucks, the small bowl was more than enough food. I saw other customers leaving with takeaway boxes, presumably in the hopes of satisfying their craving until next time.

First-time visitors take notice, it’s cash-only. The ATM nearby carries a $3 charge. Also, there’s free parking in the back but it gets a little crowded with the dinner rush. Small trade-offs for big flavor.

Pho 87: http://www.chinatownla.com/businesses.php?c=2&businessId=330

For a complete map of all locations featured in this blog, please follow this link: The Grand Appétit Map

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