Pho Nguyen Hue
10487 Bolsa Ave
Westminster, CA 92684
Despite Orange County’s reputation as a place filled with wealthy white people, it is one of the most diverse counties in the country. Example 1 of many which attest to this fact is that Orange County is home to the largest Vietnamese community in America, if not outside Vietnam, with an estimated 211,862 people of Vietnamese descent living there, mostly concentrated in Westminster and Garden Grove.
So it goes without saying that one of my favorite things about attending UC Irvine was its ease of access to an unparalleled quantity of quality Vietnamese food. Within a 15 minute drive from campus you could reach endless Vietnamese dominate strip malls along Brookhurst, Magnolia, Bolsa, or the many smaller streets off of them.
One of my favorite restaurants in Little Saigon during my time in college was Pho Nguyen Hue, which was introduced to me by a Vietnamese friend of a friend that was raised down the road in Fountain Valley. While they have some very delicious phở bò (beef pho), they are arguably more well known for their phở ga (chicken pho). In fact, a few years ago the OC Weekly pronounced their phở ga was even better than renown phở ga restaurant Pho Dakao down the street.
Thus, when I went to Orange County last week and had a craving for pho ga for lunch, it was clear that I had to go to Pho Nguyen Hue and see if their phở ga today can match the phở ga I ate in years past. The results are below:
- Phở ga (with skin and dark meat, without liver or gizzard) – While the broth was a little saltier than usual, the overall chicken flavor was excellent with just enough chicken fat content for flavor without being overpowering. The chicken pieces were quite tender and juicy, as usual, which paired well with the gingery sweet fish sauce that came with it. The noodles were cooked to perfection. All of this for just $6.50!
- Chả giò (egg rolls) – I was hungry so I decided to order some egg rolls too. Unlike other places, the egg roll skins on these are not as crisp and flaky. The filling was pretty meaty with tons of ground pork, shredded carrots, and tapioca glass noodles. While I wish there were a little more accouterments, the lettuce and mint worked perfectly well.
All in all, it was great to have a “taste of home” of sorts at Pho Nguyen Hue. It’s a place I will continue to have many fond memories, even if the service is bare bones and it is still cash only. There are days that I still miss living in Orange County, even if it is to eat a simple bowl of phở in Little Saigon.