It’s a ritual.
I fly into LAX and step into the smoggy southern California sunshine. I pick up a rental and maneuver myself (and anyone accompanying me) to the 110 North and exit 6th street in Downtown Los Angeles.
I get turned around and after a few close encounters with the wrong direction on a one-way street, I finally end up on N. Broadway between Alpine and Ord. I walk up the stairs to Pho 79 — or is it 97? I can never remember and the sign doesn’t match the address online. It really doesn’t matter.
I love it here. Located upstairs in tightly packed quarters, you will find this delicious Vietnamese hole in the wall on the edge of Chinatown. Sharing is caring.
Cha giò, the worlds best fried roll. A lot of places get lazy with the recipe and use wheat flour instead of rice paper. This makes it hard to distinguish from the popular Chinese egg roll and just doesn’t do this minced pork piece of heaven justice. Here at Pho 79/97 they do it right.
Wrap in lettuce with a few mint leaves, and dip in the nuoc cham sauce, the perfect balance of sweet, spicy and sour. Why do fried foods make me so happy? There must be a study on that somewhere. I mean I love fresh fruits and vegetables, I crave them. But I’ve never had an apple that makes me feel the way these rolls do.
On a full belly I make my way to my parents’ house where it suddenly hits me that I’ve been away so long. One of my goals over the next few years is to be able to visit my family and friends in the LA area three to four times per year. I figure with my different work projects it’ll be a snap. One must visualize these things. Until then, I come when I can for as long as I can. And I love every minute.