Sriracha, Sambal, Hoison, Fish Sauce

Pho So 1 – Gardena

Asian people can and do eat noodles for every meal of the day…especially, breakfast! Yeah, I know, breakfast. My parents have been in town for the past week and before they left to go back to the Asian-barren midwest, they requested…yet another meal of noodles. So, we hit up my dad’s go-to noodle place, Pho So 1 in Gardena. Their hours are proof of how much Asian people love their noodles in the morning; they open at 9am.

This place is your usual non-descript, linoleum floor, fluorescent lighting, furniture from the 80’s, yellowed walls, old Asian workers, strip mall Vietnamese establishment. Since I have given up carbs for the mean time, I couldn’t indulge in their mediocre pho. But I did try some of my dad’s self-seasoned (hoison and sriracha) combination pho broth and my mom’s non-seasoned regular beef pho broth. Really good pho has a depth of flavor from the stewing onions in the broth, so much so, that if you didn’t add any of the usual accoutraments (raw jalapeno, cilantro, Thai basil, lemongrass, hoison or sriracha), it would still have a lovely underlying flavor of savory richness. This broth tastes like water, salt and barely a hint of onion or other flavors. It’s basically water broth. Meh.

I, however, opted for the grilled beef which is served with this rice noodle pancake and a bunch of lovely greens, pickled carrots and radish, and some sliced cucumber. Of course, I didn’t eat the carby pancakes. But it was delicious even without the carb vessel.

Grilled Beef and Veggies

Grilled Beef and Veggies

I also added a shrimp on sugar cane to my order. It was totally worth it.

Shrimp on Sugarcane

Shrimp on Sugarcane

Our total for 4 people – 1 small shrimp pho, 1 small beef pho, 1 large beef combo pho, 1 grilled beef + 1 sugarcane shrimp, and 1 Vietnamese iced coffee totaled $40 including tax and tip. Pretty good.

Overall, if you’re looking for a noodle place, open before 11am, Pho So 1 is your closest and best bet in the South Bay area. If you can hold out and it’s not a Wednesday (closed), you should go to Pho PCH in Redondo instead. The pho there is absolutely pho-bulous! *chuckle* On another note, the strip mall where Pho So 1 is located has made some recent developments. There is a hot pot soup place and a Dumpling House with the west coast famed, xiao long bao’s (a.k.a. soup dumplings)! I’m totally going to add those 2 places to my must-try list. Frankly, any place that makes xiao long bao is usually way out in the booney’s of San Gabriel or Arcadia. So, if the Dumpling House makes even remotely decent XLB’s, we are so going there on the regular.

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