Man, it had been quite a while since I had a chance to visit my good FOY (Friend of Yoso) "Beach". It had been over three years since I last saw the man who introduced me to the joys of Binh Dan. We'd tried meeting up a couple of times before but something always seemed to come up. Last week, I had a day off and I wanted to make sure to drop by and see him, just to touch bases since it had been so long. As usual, Beach was ready with a handful of places.....but I really just wanted to see what was up, so we ended up hitting two of his recent favorites. Places he'd drop by for breakfast.......
This location of Pho 86 is squeezed in next to Pagolac, another place Beach took me to several years back.....never posted because my photos didn't come out. I'd really never noticed the place even though I've driven past it quite a few times.
The tiny restaurant was fairly busy when we arrived, so we ended up sitting at one of the larger, almost communal tables that you'd end up sharing with other customers as they straggled in. Beach has a good understanding of my tastes and preferences, so of course he ordered...the guy taking his order knew him pretty well....he told me he stops by two or three times a week.
As to be expected in the highly competitive world of Pho in Little Saigon, things had to be pretty good. The sparkling herbs, bean sprouts, peppers and lime were a testament to that.
And the Pho was also lovely......
The "Tai", rare steak was especially impressive since I'm used to the thin, dry, and cardboard-like stuff that is the norm here in San Diego. The broth is clear, very balanced and mellow, with decent fat, mild anise, and not overly salty.
Of course, I was soon distracted. I was looking at the guy behind the window to the kitchen area lifting out two delicious looking leg bones and putting them in a bowl. Beach turned, took a glance, and told me, "don't worry, that's for us....." And indeed it was.
I wish I took a photo of the bones lengthwise so you'd get a better look, but I just wanted at the tendon and all the beefy goodness. Man, this was like a tendon lover's dream. You just keep cutting pieces of tendon with meat off the bone and keep eating. It was, without a doubt, delici-yoso...... I only wish I knew how to order it since it's not on the menu. I'm sure Beach will let me know.
Nothing like hole in the wall Pho with Beach....
Pho 86 Restaurant
14576 Brookhurst St
Westminster, CA 92683
Our next stop was a little further down.....all that tendon just kinda sits and I just can't eat like I used too. I needed to make one short stop (a later post) and Beach had just the place for a small "snack" right next door.
Kang Lac Bakery:
I do have a special place in my heart for those "old school" places that may have a large menu, but do certain things well. According to Beach, Kang Lac makes a good Bot Chien, which I'd never had before.
The dish is basically cakes made of rice flour that are pan fried till crisp, then eggs and scallions are added, much like the Chiu Chow Turnip Cakes with scrambled eggs. The bot chien had attained that wonderful crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside texture and the eggs added a richness, the scallions a mild pungency.
Beach proceeded to pour some fish sauce into a small dish and added some Sriracha and told me to dip the bot chien into that. I loved the fish sauce, which added a nice salty-savory component to the dish. I think I'll pass on the hot sauce next time...no need for that. Actually, this dish is right up the Missus' alley, She loves stuff like this. I'll make sure to bring Her here next time.
Kang Lac Bakery
9301 Bolsa Avenue
Westminster, CA 92683
I had to be back in San Diego for an appointment, so I had to leave sooner than I wanted. Still, the morning was full of lively conversation. I noticed something as we were chatting....it used to be so much about food....now that we're getting a bit older it was about other things, travel, how well Beach's children are doing in their career and school, life in general....yes, we still talked about food, but there was so much else. As always, I had a great time. I've got to make sure that it's not another three years before meeting up again.
Thanks for another great day Beach!