Forget the fact that Kanye West injured his head on a sign while going into 9021PHO last week, as well as creating quite a scene inside the restaurant with the pursuing pack of paparazzi. It is the food here that is the headline maker. This is a stellar example of superior Vietnamese food in a Beverly Hills environment.
This small restaurant is the brainchild of Vietnamese and Indo-Chine Master Chef Kimmy Tang from Saigon and there are now four locations to choose from including Glendale, Sherman Oaks and Westlake Village. Without going into too many details this woman has had a rough ride to get where she is today. Her family took ten years to get out of Vietnam and she ended up in Bakersfield, where as a teenager she started working in restaurants, at times seven days a week.
We tried some of the basic menu items including the PHO (Vietnamese noodle soup), where you have a choice of beef, chicken or seafood. I went for the Spicy & Sour seafood version—very spicy and certainly not for faint of heart. There are a lot of inexpensive add-ons for the PHO (ranging from $.50 to $2.00), most of which are priced at $8.95, just a couple of dollars more than you would expect to pay in places like Gardena.
Chef Tang delivered a couple of really interesting appetizers that are not on the menu. Neptune’s Bubbles are lychee stuffed with pine nuts and shrimp and served piping hot. Be sure to request these as well as the rather amazing Poseidon’s Flutes (an egg roll filled with shrimp and taro). What really made this goodie stand out was the accompanying pineapple and mint sauce.
Next up she came through with a whole cooked red snapper stuffed with glass noodles and black mushrooms, which was served with a spectacular coconut rice. What followed was delicious shrimp dish with snap peas, yam and tofu which was served with Vietnamese curry sauce.
All of the Vietnamese salads on the menu are served with bun (rice noodles) and for strict vegetarians, there is a choice of six entrees. In fact, all entrees on the menu fall into the $14-16 category. It is important to note that no fat is used in her cooking and Kimmy can be seen scurrying back and forth from the kitchen to the customers, delivering an ultimate experience in customer service.
The wine list is small but functional and beers from all over Asia are available.
9021PHO is an excellent alternative at a fraction of the cost to the overpriced and over-hyped Crustacean Restaurant which is located nearby. If you are in the area for lunch, pop in and try the lunch specials, most of which are priced around $9.95.
Pho Beverly Hills is located at 490 N. Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210