If you live in Los Angeles, the cure for the common cold is authentic pho. The Vietnamese soup made of beef or chicken stock with rice noodles and thin slices of beef or chicken exists in the realm of gumbo or barbecue – its makers are fiercely proprietary about the craft. Like chicken noodle soup, people swear by pho’s healing powers, but there is little scientific evidence to back such claims.
To be sure to get all the medicinal properties out of pho (pronounced fah), the flavor has to have some bite. You must add plum sauce or hoisin sauce, as well as the chili sauce (Sriracha) or chili garlic paste, fish sauce, and thin sliced jalapenos to draw out your sinuses and kick-start taste buds.
In case you’re feeling under the weather or thirsty for broth, Phorage on Overland Avenue is the doctor pho you.
The Palms-based restaurant that took over Kogi truck creator Roy Choi’s Chego in 2013 has mastered the locally sourced modern Vietnamese experience. The smooth, minimalist restaurant in a cramped strip mall near the 10 Freeway was such an instant success that months later, Phorage chef/co-owner Perry Cheung opened Phorage ASAP in Playa del Rey, now run by Ulysseus Pineda-Alfaro, the original chef of the popular Sawtelle spot Plan Check. The menu at ASAP (an acronym for Asian Sandwiches and Pho) is touted as more oceanside-driven.
At Phorage, however, the food is more influenced by the adjacent Culver City culinary scene.
Phorage’s pho is MSG free, gluten free, and made with hormone-free meats. The oxtail broth is deep and rich, with a hint of sweetness, and the bone-in natural beef oxtail falls off the bone and into the soup. The chicken pho is made with shredded Mary’s Free Range Chicken and is easy on the palette and stomach. The restaurant also serves thin-sliced rare beef pho, made with rare Washugyu (American Wagyu) steak and beef brisket.
For a weighty primer to the pho, try the $7 fresh spring rolls with shrimp, BBQ pork, rice noodle, lettuce, mint, and mayo with peanut sauce (and a vegetarian option with tofu and mushroom).
For a heartier treat, there’s a “claypot” Jidori chicken in caramel fish sauce and cilantro over broken rice. At $13, this sumptuous recipe fills you up without putting you down. You can also add a wok fried egg for $2 to any dish.
For other bites, there are $7 imperial rolls filled with shrimp and pork (and a vegetarian one made with crispy tofu), along with three types of Banh Mi made with craft pickles (again, another veg-friendly one with roasted eggplant). These Vietnamese sandwiches include Berkshire pork, Jidori chicken, and vegetarian options. Vermicelli noodles (cold rice noodle salad) use the same kind of pork and chicken and a trio of broken rice plates round out the menu.
Please, don’t order water. The $4-$3 handmade drink selection is unparalleled in Palms, ranging from Vietnamese Iced coffee to iced organic tea to soda chahn (fresh squeezed lime juice, soda water, natural sugar).
Be sure to set foot in Phorage thirsty.
Phorage is located at 3300 Overland Ave., Los Angeles, and open Monday through Saturday 11am to 10pm and Sunday 11am to 8pm.
For more information call 310.876.0910 or visit phoragela.com.