Story and photos by Valentina Silva
It’s not easy for Pho-loving Eastsiders to satisfy their desires. Sure, you can head out to San Gabriel Valley for the phenomenal stuff, but that’s not always practical. There are a few options closer by — Gingergrass, Pho Café, Blue Hen and The Good Girl Dinette — but, honestly, none of those places ever really do it for me.
When I’m in need of noodles, and I want to keep it local, I head over to Lemongrass in Eagle Rock. It’s not Golden Deli, but it is solid. The ingredients are quality, the flavors are traditional, the menu is sizeable and the service is friendly … all very necessary components for a go-to neighborhood pho place.
The soup here is very good. It probably won’t blow your mind, but it won’t disappoint either. They serve the standards: rare beef (pictured at top), well done beef, meat ball, shrimp, chicken, etc. I usually go for the Rare Beef Pho, but I will say it is a little light on the beef. The noodle to meat ratio is definitely a bit off, but the nice, rich flavor of the broth almost makes up for it.
My other standby is the Vegetarian Pho (pictured at the top of this post), made with lots of baked tofu, bok choy, mushrooms, and vegan broth that tastes like more than just bland, murky water. And that’s no small accomplishment. Lemongrass actually has plenty of tasty vegetarian options, including egg rolls, various vermicelli dishes and their popular Shredded Tofu and Sweet Potato String Sandwich.
The spring rolls are also a must at Lemongrass. The ones pictured here are beef and shrimp, but they serve 6 different types, including meaty and veggie varieties. I’ve tried most, and I’ve yet to be disappointed. I know it’s not that tough to make a good spring roll, but the important thing is freshness, and that’s where Lemongrass excels. Somebody, hand me the Sriracha.
Consider ordering a Vietnamese Lemonade, a tart, bubbly, sugary treat that goes well with everything.
Valentina Silva as a regular contributor writing about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her new blog, Eastside Food Bites.