In the minds of Americans, at least, no dish is as essential to Vietnamese cuisine as pho, the savory beef noodle soup that is often the principal factor in the judgment of any Vietnamese restaurant. The pho restaurants in Los Angeles have maintained the dish’s integrity, and finding a good bowl of it isn’t too hard. There are definitely superior versions of the soup scattered throughout San Gabriel, but there is a reasonably good pho joint in our very own Claremont. Pho Century is family-run and has fresh food and good pho that helps warm up these abominably cold Southern California nights.
Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a specialty of North Vietnam that combines rice noodles, beef, and various spices to form a heck of a good noodle soup. It comes with thai basil, lime, and bean sprouts on the side. Be sure to throw in a generous spoonful of the Vietnamese hot sauce that Pho Century makes itself. Pho Century has twelve versions of pho, each with different meat options, which are all about $7.
The restaurant’s menu features a host of other Vietnamese specialties, like cha gio, or fried spring rolls (labeled fried egg rolls on the menu, $2.75). The summer rolls (labeled spring rolls on the menu, also $2.75) are not fried; rice paper is lowered into lukewarm water for about 5 seconds, removed, and filled with cold noodles, bean sprouts, and basil leaves before being wrapped. There are plenty of rice dishes and other vermicelli noodle dishes to choose from, which are also reasonably good and cheap. There’s also bahn mi, the French-Vietnamese pork sandwich, for a very reasonable $3. That makes Subway’s $5 footlong deal seem fairly pedestrian.
The restaurant is clean and the service is great. These two things are downright eerie for a decent Asian restaurant, considering lack of cleanliness is generally proportional to the amount of flavor in the food. There’s even delivery for those who can’t make the drive. Here’s a good alternative to swallowing down Mix Bowl’s food every weekend.
1244 W Foothill Blvd
Upland, CA 91786