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I was so happy to have found a good Vietnamese restaurant nearby that I went three times in one week! Pho Hue Oi is less than a year old, but there are already lines out the door at lunch, and regulars (like me) who are grateful for the flavors of Vietnam without driving an hour to Little Saigon.

They offer something you will enjoy, whether it is Pho, Bun Bo, Rice plates, garlic noodles, or Banh Mi. As a nod to Americans, they offer garlic fries, and as a nod to Vietnamese, they offer the steamed rice cakes Banh Beo Chen, topped with ground shrimp, pork rinds, and fried shallots. Nearly everything on the menu is $10, with the one exception of the wok seared filet mignon with rice, salad, and vegetables for $12.50. As you will see from the pictures, the prices are incredible for the quality and quantity of food.

Seeing the choice of condiments, all in pristinely clean containers, was a very good first omen of things to come.

Of course I ordered the Pho Dac Biet on my first visit, and the freshness of the basil and bean sprouts accompaniment was a second good omen.

The regular sized bowl of sliced filet mignon, well done brisket, flank, tendon, and beef meatball for $8.95 was so replete with meat that I barely had room to add all the basil and bean sprouts! The broth was very clean tasting, the tendon was tender, and the quality of the meat was astounding. My only disappointment was that they did not offer oxtail pho as an option, but this bowl can be customized with 3 of your favorite ingredients for the same price.

On a subsequent visit, I had the Bun Tom Thit Nuong Cha Gio, a salad version of the soup, with grilled pork, shrimp, egg roll, fresh raw vegetables on vermicelli noodles for $9, I substituted grilled rib eye for $1 more and of course I added a myriad of the condiments to heat up the bowl. It was the perfect summertime bowl.

On my latest visit, I opted for a rice plate, going for the Com Dac Biet for $10.50, which was so copious, I nearly had to take some of it home, but I ended up eating very slowly and somehow finished! As you can see, it includes a perfectly fried egg on top of the rice, generous baby green salad, pickled vegetables, grilled shrimp, chicken, and pork. This is really enough for two meals or a big appetite!

Maybe on my next visit I will try the Bank Mi, but I am so happy with all that I have tasted at Pho Hue Oi that I may just repeat my menu choices next week:)

June Gloom usually starts in June, but this year it came in May, bringing Brigadoon like fog, drizzle, and a chill that called for hot comforting soup. Eboshi Noodle Bar is in the same plaza as Hikari, the fabulous Japanese BBQ place. My local foodie friends said it was good, so I stopped by for lunch one day.

Bullet trains are precisely on time in Japan, and Eboshi is true to their posted opening and closing times, so if you arrive 5 minutes early or late, you will not be allowed inside. I appreciate this kind of precision because it translates to the food that is served by Japanese to Japanese (I was one of only 3 non-Japanese in the packed lunch time crowd).

As you can see from the handwritten menu items, prices are very reasonable, and I loved the variety from grilled beef tongue to fried oysters from Japan, in addition to the full page of ramen choices.

 I chose the classic miso spring onion, and it was a gigantic US sized bowl, loaded with so much spring onions, it was almost an even proportion of onions to noodles! The flavor was deep and slightly sweet, with bits of ground pork, and hearty enough that I was full for the rest of the day. I have no idea how the others at the counter ate an entire bowl AND gyoza too! At around $12 including tax and 20% tip, this was also a bargain.


The same friends who told me about Eboshi, also said that Ramen Ko-Ryu was their favorite, so that was my next stop.They are famous for their spicy soup with a board of fame for those who have conquered the challenge, but I was just seeking a warm hearty bowl.

I chose the garlic bomb with spicy miso, at under $10 this flavor bomb combined crispy garlic bits with two thick slices of char siu, green onions, and bits of pork in a mildly spiced broth and springy noodles. Around $12 including tax and 20% tip, this was also a bargain, and it came out literally 3 minutes after I ordered it!

My favorite soups are at Din Tai Fung, with locations across the globe, and three in the greater Los Angeles area. Their shrimp and pork wonton soup has the clean flavor of freshly made tender wontons in a consommé broth that is both light and complex as only masters of soup can execute.

My favorite soup of all (so far) is the braised beef noodle with 3 or 4 big hearty melt in your mouth chunks of tendon rich meat, baby bok choy, and perfect noodles in a heart warming broth, all for an incredible price of around $14 including tax, and 20% tip. I could eat this every week, and will probably be back next week for another bowl 🙂

There are very limited choices up here on the hill overlooking the ocean. There are a few fast food chains, or very mediocre expensive places, but a glimmer of good cooking using organic and farm fresh ingredients recently opened in the Promenade Shopping Center called Once Upon A Table. They are so new they don’t even have a Yelp listing yet (but I am sure that they will after this blog post goes live).

Brenda, the owner/chef, is a caterer who decided to open up a brick and mortar location, and although she is still catering, this set-up allows for a source of new clientele and a place that gives her the space to showcase her talents.

The tomato soup was so good that I came back for a bowl after having a cup with a sandwich on my first visit. It is a nice balance of acid and sweet tomato without any need for the addition of cream. It would be a perfect pair with their grilled cheese sandwich on a cold day (yes, they do have a grilled cheese sandwich on their menu).

I chose the pastrami sandwich for my first meal. Served hot on grilled rye bread, with coleslaw and cheese on rye, this was a bastardization of my beloved NY classic, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, which says a lot about the place that even the pickle was excellent:) Everything on the menu is around $10, so the prices are extremely reasonable for the quality of ingredients.

Another day, another sandwich, this time a grilled vegetable sandwich on focaccia. I liked the way the vegetables still had body and some texture, and the flavor of their essence was maintained. A wonderful choice for vegetarians and vegans.

This hearty and wonderful bowl of cobb salad to go was beautiful, and if the romaine had not been so bitter, I would have enjoyed it tremendously. Unfortunately it is not possible to control the bitterness or peppery flavor of certain ingredients, so they get an absolute pass on that because the other ingredients were superb, from the perfect avocado to the crisp bacon, the moist chicken, and the ripe tomatoes.

My favorite choice (so far) is the turkey sandwich, with moist perfectly sliced breast meat so perfectly balanced with ripe tomato, avocado, and a a thin slice of cheese to add a nice mouthfeel on toasted sourdough. It is a very hearty portion for under $10 including tax and tip.

I think I may have found my go to spot up on the hill for lunch 🙂

The best recommendations for food are from fellow foodies, not matter their age or location. I am grateful to have so many friends who live in the vicinity. They  shared some of their favorite spots, and when they said that they drive up the hill where I live to eat at Pho Hana, I went the next day. And the day after that. And I will probably go tomorrow.

Anyone who has a developed palate appreciates the nuances and difference between a good broth and a great broth. The best pho I’ve ever eaten is at Pho Golden Star, but it is in Chino (60 miles away), so although I will travel for food and pho, I won’t make that drive in rush hour midweek traffic…ok, maybe I would, but only once a week:)

Pho Hana has a good clean broth, they use quality ingredients, and their combination #1, with rare flank steak, tendon, and tripe for $10 is a very satisfying bowl.

Of course I added all of the bean sprouts, basil, jalapenos, and lime, along with a generous squeeze of garlic chili sauce:)

                                       This is the bowl after I mixed in the extras

 This is after adding the garlic chili sauce:)

The seafood noodle version was $2 more and included fresh crab! It was a slow tedious process to get the meat out of the claw, but if you have the patience, it is a rewarding workout.

Pho Hana also offer soon tofu or curry soup, so I tried the beef soon tofu medium spicy (next time I’ll try the very spicy, but always better to level up than be in pain and regret your choice) for $14. It was bubbling when they brought it to the table, so be careful when eating, and remember there is a raw egg in the middle of the pot that you may break into the soup so that it cooks in the bubbling broth. A nice selection of sides come along with the soup, and it was exactly the right amount of food for me on a day when I had not eaten for 6 hours….



The service is very friendly, and the decor ranges from a Christmas tree, a television set to either the Travel Channel or HGTV, and a bookcase full of old LPs, to a various Western artifacts like a tall wooden Indian. This is truly an eclectic place with menu items from Korea, Vietnam, and China, but you can’t go wrong with the pho, and the comfort of finding a place on the hill that serves palate pleasing broth.

February is the height of cold and flu season, so for me that means it is soup season 🙂 While I love making my own, there are times when soup is just better when someone else makes it for you! Aside from their phenomenal Hainan Chicken, the roasted chicken soup at Side Chick is an excellent alternative; it combines the crispy skin of a roasted chicken with chicken bone broth, noodles, and tender greens all in one hearty, healthy bowl. As with many of the soups in today’s post, this is a great take out option for a sick friend or yourself if you are not feeling well.

I’ve been wanting to try Killer Noodle since they opened, and when a friend on the Westside was running several hours late, I decided to stop in for a ‘snack”. Tsujita now has THREE storefronts all in the same area, including the original, where I ate right after they first opened in 2011. This latest outpost is radically chic, from the moment you walk in, the black backdrop and colorful containers let you know that this is not your hole in the wall ramen shop.

 For newbies to noodles and soups, every condiment is labeled.

I got the medium spice, which was perfectly hot to be able to finish the entire bowl

 of delicious rich broth with ground pork

 while using about five napkins to blow my nose and dab my eyes 🙂

For a much less intense soup, but hearty complex flavors, a Vietnamese Oxtail pho is a great choice. Pho Ha Noi (get it?) serves a very large portion for their version. Easily enough to share, I took half of this home and had two more meals with the leftovers! As you can probably tell from the photo, the oxtails were not really warm, but since they were going into the soup, they were fine, especially since they had great flavor and were very tender.

 The broth was very good, with enough flavor to infuse the beef.

 The usual side accompanied the soup.

One of the times I went to HMart hungry I got their kimchee soup which perfectly hit the spot on a rainy gray day, delivering a spicy bubbly tonic to brighten the day.


The last soup in today’s post is from Ruiji, the Sichuan place that came highly recommended; I found it worthy of all the recommendations after just one taste of their food. I ordered the Mao Sih Wong, a melange of blood sausage, intestines, and a plethora of vegetables. This immense, intense bowl is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, and although I enjoyed it, I’m not sure I would order it again, but it was so complex, so intense, and so unique, it made me want to go back for more dishes.

This is the bowl after I mixed it a bit….the amount of blood cake was overwhelming to me, especially since I found I love French and Spanish blood sausage, but not Chinese. I loved all the vegetables, and the chewy intestines and tripe 🙂

Does anyone have any South Bay ramen favorites to recommend?

A song may say that it never rains in Southern California, but there was a torrential rainstorm which not only soaked the dry landscape, but also chilled the temperatures enough that I caught a cold 😦 Since I was too sick to make my own chicken soup, I asked my local friends where I could get some and without hesitation, they said Brite Spot. A Mexican spot focused on seafood, for chicken soup?!?!? Yes, it turns out good cooks, cook well no matter what their specialty may be. Knowing I was too sick to eat there, I took my soup to go, but I was very impressed by the assortment of condiments on the tables and counter; when three of the choices are habanero based and all have been used, it’s a good sign!

My to go soup included a very nice baggy of limes, onions, and cilantro, all of which I added to my soup, along with my own garlic habanero sauce.

Their “medium” sized container of soup for $11 held nearly half a chicken, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, corn on the cob, fresh parsley and a clear broth.

A side of rice came with the soup, as well as a choice of tortillas for those who want starch with their soup. I added some of the rice to my soup.

And found there was enough for TWO meals. I also felt much better the next day, so I ate the even more flavorful leftovers for lunch.

Since they are famous for Mexican food, I went back for a lengua loaded taco and at $6 this was not only a full plate, but a full meal loaded with tender succulent morsels and topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese.

I will be back for the whole flash fried fish….who wants to join me?




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