Chef Kimmy Tang is a worldly chef. In 2001, she opened Michelia, a fusion Vietnamese restaurant in Mid-Whilsire. after closure in Jan of ’08, she traversed the globe in search of grub. This December, she went West and opened a pho shop in Beverly Hills, on Canon Drive, of all places.
As far as I know, this might be the ritziest pho shop in the entire country. It does, despite the pun, actually carry a 90210 zip code, yet it is still just a pho shop. Stripping away the valet parking, the beyond cute glass demitasse for tea, the colorful cups and the square plates, what you have, are bowls of pho.
And I’d be darned if I judge this any different from Pho Huynh, Pho Filet, Pho Minh.
There are folks who visit (insert ethnic restaurants) in the stupidest of places simply because it’s (insert ethnicity). I hate that game. Chinese restaurant in Eagle Rock? Owned by an ex Chinese lawyer? Don’t want it. Italian sandwich shop in Downtown LA? Owned by unemployed Italian CTO? Don’t really want it either. Pho restaurant carrying an absurd name, owned by a chef with more than two decade kitchen experience, with foundations deeply rooted in Vietnamese cooking? Surely it deserves one shot?
And what a jolly surprise it was. Pho tai (rare beef) had great triangular relationship between nutmeg, cinnamon, veering a bit towards the anise side. The rare sirloin, when asked, and served, on the side, is cut not too thin, and was tender, beefy, with no stench of rawness. The accoutrement platter missed saw leaf herb (culantro), but it really mattered not. Bo vien beef balls were served in halves with the soup, and the pho itself arrived plated with only beef & scallions, with scalding hot soup on the side. For the west side, it’s difficult to imagine a better bowl of pho tai bo vien.
But the most surprising of all was thit bo nuong la lot. Often served during bo bay mon (7 course beef), thit bo nuong la lot (a great recipe can be found here) usually never remains on the mind after consumption. It’s a simple dish, but here, the beef is grounded coarsely, nearly burger texture, and served medium rare. Previous attempts to eat bo nuong la lot raw were all thwarted by the relatively fatty beef and skinny roll, but not here. This is a grilled Vietnamese beef burger in a stick. Beyond it being a rarity, it’s oddly sublime.
(did not take a pix, but the basic form takes the shape of below, by Vietworld Kitchen):
The rest of the courses were perfectly fine save the white meat used in the pho ga, and the odd goi cuon spring roll featuring jicama instead of sliced pork. Here, 9021pho’s combo of thit bo nuong la lot and and the balanced pho more than deserves the neighborhood’s soupy demands.
490 N Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210