Preface: dear newly found readers who happen to be Vietnamese, please do not hate me, just go eat it.
Not quite sure how to say this but.. Fresh Roast is the defacto coffee at my household. It’s not the best, it’s not the cheapest, it’s just close. And because I’m racist. This Sino-Vietnamese roaster blends and roasts a French Press bean that results in a distinct ca phe sua da. If you’re lucky enough to grind it and run it through the espresso machine at home, it’s one of the most convincing (and quickest!) Vietnamese Iced Coffee you’ll have east of Saigon**.
The coffee roaster aside, Fresh Roast has… wait for it… Chinese beef soup noodle*. After a quick info exchange with a Vietnamese food encyclopedia, it has been confirmed this is essential a heavily Chinese inflected Vietnamese dish of bo kho, which esssentially is a Chinese-derived Vietnamese beef stew. Got that? No? This dish explained in one long run-on sentence: the Vietnamese took a Chinese dish, made it stinkier with fish sauce, and a Chinese chef/coffee roaster in San Gabriel, born/raised in Vietnam, decided to make this dish a bit more Chinese by adding wheat noodles.
Why? Because the restaurant is located closer to Taiwanese population within San Gabriel city, and, every Sino-Vietnamese wants to drop the hyphen and simply be Chinese. Really.
Before anyone actually gets around to asking: “hey, how does a beef stew noodle* pair with espresso”? It doesn’t. The two do not harmonize into a glorious song on your palate. Fresh Roast’s espresso bean is absolutely oily and over roasted. It doesn’t express “lovely notes of citrus” nor “hints of blackberry”. The baristas are teen girls, never destined to compete on the stage of USBC. But that is all OK, because minimally the roast is sickeningly fresh, and the beef soup noodle* is in the upper echelons of LA’s noodle world despite lacking produzione propria noodles.
The pink placard introducing this not-so-new dish as “MSG Free” and “thickener [ie, cornstarch] free”. Need another indication of why this is a Chinese dish cooked at a Sino-Vietnamese
restaurant coffee roater? Note the Chinese on the card, with no Vietnamese to be found. The “thickener free” description is necessary because this bowl is even more viscous than a bowl of good bo kho. Accompaniment to this savory, hearty, and Campbell Chunky-esque bowl of noodles is limited to a Solo cup of lightly spiced pickled mustard greens. The only actual greens to be found are some strands of green onions. The limp noodles are but mere vessels of beefiness, but true to the cliche, the whole is greater than sum of its parts at Fresh Roast. Just do not hold this entry liable if you decide to order the roast beef sandwich.
* Wikipedia, and every other transliteration, names this dish “Beef Noodle Soup”. For the sake of not calling kimchi, chikim, a more accurate explanation of 牛肉麵 — Beef Soup Noodle is utilized.
** only communists call Hochiminh City Hochiminh City.
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