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Monday, September 26, 2016

Eagle Rock’s Lemongrass: Pho you can count on

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.



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6 comments

  1. I’m a big fan of Indochine Vien in Atwater (3110 Glendale Boulevard). If you get take out pho, they separare the rare beef in a plastic bag so that it doesn’t get cooked until you are ready!

  2. It’s not REALLY that far away — and was a Eastside staple long before the Westsiders discovered Vietnam wasn’t just the name of a “conflict” decades ago — but just outside the L.A. city limits in Alhambra, is Pho 79 (29 S. Garfield, just south of Main), with a massive menu, large dining room, and quick service.

    Plus the large Pho Tai (rare beef) bowl — or Pho Nam, or Chin, or, or, or… is still around 5 bucks (versus $7-10 than many new trendier cafes charge for a smaller portion), and comes with mounds of garnishes and extras to add in.

    If you’re not a fan of red meat, the Pho Ga (chicken) is a completely different take on the theme, but with just as much character. More adventurous? Try it with the tripe, meatballs (not like Chef Boyardee ever imagined), brisket — or some combination of the same.

    The Spring Rolls with peanut sauce are as fresh as you can imagine, and Imperial rolls are nothing like Chinese egg rolls (wrap them in soft lettuce and dip in a Vietnamese hot sauce, like the regulars do). Soups are just a couple pages of large menu of authentic dishes that still boggle the mind after having gone there for many years. (And, take-out is nearly as good). Call ahead, and it’ll be waiting within 10-15 minutes usually.

  3. @Verdell, I’ve heard that Atwater has some great Vietnamese places popping up. I’ll definitely hit up Indochine Vien.

    @ Pho ’nuff, I agree that Pho 79 is delicious. I used to live in Alhambra, and it was one of my faves. It’s definitely not too far for a weekend, but on a weekday, I like to keep the drive under 10 minutes.

  4. Indochine Vien has the best parking, as well as a killer pork chop. They also offer fries with their banh mi. That’s matched only by GG Dinette.

  5. And I can’t forget to mention Lu Sub on Glendale Blvd between East West and Citibank. Their Pho price to quality ration can’t be beat.

  6. I love Lemongrass and drive over there about once a week on my lunch break (I work in downtown Glendale). So, no, it’s not far away, and the Pho and spring rolls are … so good.

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