Here we are: the semifinals; the Final Pho. Sixteen of Orange
County's finest pho shops have been whittled down to four. The winner of
today's matchup will face the winner of the Pho Thanh Lich vs. Pho
Quang Trung match on Friday in the championship to declare the finest
(pho-nest?) pho in Orange County.Gustavo
|Photo by the Elmo Monster|
|Pho Than Lich's beautiful bowl|
: This review has my byline, but let's start with Edwin's take first, as I'm still shell-shocked by the upset of the tournament: Brodard Chateau's NINE-DOLLAR DAMN PHO over old-school Pho Nguyen Hue
. Sigh . . . it happens. Take it, Edwin!Edwin
: Why it's taken me this long to return to Pho Thanh Lich, I don't know.
But I'm glad it won Shuji's match-up because among all the pho joints on our list, this was the one I was rooting for.
And how is it possible the prices have gone down since I last came?
With its $2.99 Happy Hour prices for pho that lasts to practically
closing, Pho Thanh Lich is the reason anyone would rightly scoff at the
existence of $8 or $9 pho.
The economics just doesn't make sense: Here is a full meal that not only
feeds you, but also fills your soul for the price of a tiny fast-food sub
The room smells of the sour tang of dried mops, mildewed dish rags and
sweat. There are what appear to be Christmas garlands left up from
holidays long forgotten.
A tired, droopy-eyed old woman doesn't even bother with the niceties,
her demeanor as no-nonsense as the bowls that come out of the kitchen.
She drops the menu in front of you as if she's tossing a bone to a dog. She jots down your order quickly without any acknowledgment that you're a
paying customer. There's a 50-cent charge for ice water. The water,
you think to yourself, has to be $5 per glass before you even spend half
the amount you'd have to shell out at Brodard Chateau.
Around you, like-minded thrifty souls gather, the restaurant filling up
the later it gets. Here, like nowhere else, there's the feeling of
community among strangers, a shared experience of something good,
something special: the pho.More »