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How Do You Say "Pho"?

It's rare to hear a native Vietnamese speaker pronounce "Pho" as "Foe", but it does happen.
There are some very distinct Vietnamese tones that are spoken in more rural, areas of Vietnam, where the diacritics are pronounced differently than the more commonly heard tones of the South, Central, and North.

In these rare cases, the rising diacritics don't necessarily take on a rising tone, but rather, a fluctuating tone with a lowering finish. Even the diacritic that looks a question mark "?" that rests on top of the "O" in "Pho" (called dau hoi ) can often be pronounced flat, resulting in a pronunciation as "foe".

How do I know this? Because I work with large staff of native Vietnamese speakers who come from all parts of Vietnam. Working and speaking Vietnamese with them has taught me that although there are there are common Viet tones, there are also some unique ones that exist as well.

I've learned never to say "never".

But really, I say, don't think about it too much, it's not worth arguing.

If you get close to the pronunciation, that's great. If you botch it, don't sweat it. Lord knows I botch the pronunciation of everything outside of my native languages.

Just the fact that a non-Viet chooses to walk into a Vietnamese restaurant and is excited to experience the food is the biggest honor and compliment to the Viet culture and community.

Like my elders tell me-- Don't worry about getting the perfect pronunciation, just slurp it, and eat it all. Enjoy Vietnamese food. You won't get a spanking for mis-pronunciation, but you will be a big smack for only eating the noodles and leaving all the pho broth behind.

Sep 30, 2009
whiteonricecouple in Features

Where to buy grass fed beef or farm specific beef in LA?

We're looking to buy good grass fed beef in LA . Or better yet, we want to visit some local beef farmers in the Southern California area. We know of Frank Fitzptric of 5 Bar beef, but want to find more. Any other suggestions?

Vietnamese Yogurt

Nov 16, 2008
whiteonricecouple in Recipes

Celery Root & Potato Mash

Love celery root!! Absolutely brilliant, so full of great flavors! It will be a wonderful new addition to our Thanksgiving feast.

Oct 29, 2008
whiteonricecouple in Recipes

Explorations on Brookhurst: Xanh, Fountain Valley

Thanks for the great review and update ! Sounds like you guys really ate up a storm. When Das Ubergeek and King Kong5 get together , everyone knows there's some serious eating going on!

Xanh Bistro - New Vietnamese in Fountain Valley

I agree they do cost more and for the quality of food for a small, simple but nice place to eat ,this is a good recommendation. When I walk into a contemporary place like Xanh, I expect to be paying a bit more. But my expectations are also much higher because I still expect to be getting food with flavor, not watered or tamed down . I was pleasantly surprised with some innovative dishes and was very satisfied with the flavor and freshness.
From my visit, I liked the fact that the staff, although still new, we're friendly, humble and sincere, not ego maniacs. I feel like I can walk in there with a pair of shorts and flip flops and still feel comfortable and welcome. I'm tired of some higher end or trendy VN restaurants that have weak, cowardly and overpriced menu's and that treat customers with disdain if their dress code is not in check. Pleeeeze, who needs to get dressed up or look like a movie star to slurp a bowl of Pho? Sorry to vent.
When I need a change of pace from my favorite hole in the walls, Xanh offers a nice balance of everything.
Thanks for your insight. Will have to try the interesting horchata for the next visit.

Xanh Bistro - New Vietnamese in Fountain Valley

This corner of Brookhurst/Edinger has the Albertsons, Burger King and Denny's as the most visible reference points. It's about four shops down from Mi La Cay. Xanh lies right at the apex corner of this quiet L-shaped strip mall, behind the Dennys. To one side of Xanh is a nail spa and the other side is a old theatre in renovation for a furture Viet entertainment venue.

Xanh Bistro - New Vietnamese in Fountain Valley

Geez, this place is easy to miss. Chef Haley Nguyen ( Culinary instructor and now restaurateur) just opened up Xanh Bistro in a hidden corner of a quiet, sleepy shopping center in Fountain Valley. Luckily some friends invited me to this new little secret, or else I never would have ever found this little eatery, let alone seen the four, simple lettered sign outside - X.A.N.H. (meaning the color Green in Vietnamese ). I had the claypot white fish (moist, delicious and perfectly salty like it should be ) with garlic mustard greens ( tender & definitely garlicky). The best part of the meal was the banana blossom salad with chicken skewers infused with lime leaves. This salad was tossed with a bold, flavorful, salty, sour sweet dressing that seemed to draw away the normal astringency of the banana blossoms. Yes! This was a first for me.
Everyone in my group enjoyed the meal , but all agreed on one thing....the staff was still green (just like it's name). The wait staff seemed awfully awkward and still uncomfortable with the newness of their restaurant. But they just opened, so I'm going back again to try more of the exciting menu this week. Maybe by then the wait staff with learn their menu by then too.

16161 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley Ca 92708
Tel: 714.531.2030

Curry Brussels Sprouts

Jan 24, 2008
whiteonricecouple in Recipes

Where can I get good Vietnemese sandwich's?

Check out for an extensive directory of banh mi shops . As far as recommendations, all those mentioned on this post are good ones. Banh Mi Che Cali pretty much is the best bet for your buck ( here, banh mi literally only costs a little more than a buck).

Viet Noodle Bar - Atwater

bsquared2- Yes, your vote was just what I was thinking, but wanted to give them a second try before I spewed it out. Another vote would be is that maybe they are under-estimating the knowledge and eating power of Non-Viet's and assumed that these diners wouldn't know the difference (hopefully, this is not the case). I know of so many Non-Viet's who know and understand Viet food more than some Vietnamese, and everyone here on Chowhound is living proof to why Viet restaurateurs should raise the bar & make their menu as quality as possible, no matter how "hip" or "trendy".

Chowpatty- Thanks again for the heads up on "Indochine" (across the street from VNBar, right?). Pricing is crucial and if VNBar's pho was less than $9, maybe there wouldn't be much discussion.

Viet Noodle Bar - Atwater

Most of my family in Hanoi do not eat Pho with any condiments, but collectively, the evolution of eating pho anywhere in the US usually always has the vegetable plate. Whether or not one chooses to add these to a bowl, it is normally always offered. I don't think Viet Noodle bar is making their Pho in the Northern tradition (lack of accompaniments) because even the most Northern of Pho owned establishments offer accompaniments. VNB's noodles were not even the type of thick and flat noodles that most Notherners prefer. Their noodles were a little thicker than the norm because they were over cooked and thus, expanded.
What ever their reasons are , this is their offering of Pho and I look forward to having another bowl to see if the kitchen has made any changes or additions after all of this constructive feedback.
I agree with you that the tamales were "lacking something". My explanation for this is possibly that the dip that was offered with the tamales was bland. The fish sauce was straight from the bottle and watered down (at least to my taste). I didn't detect any additions of garlic or lime in the dip. Maybe if the fish sauce dip was a little more flavorful, it would have made the tamales better. Let us know if you find out when the menu expands ! :)

Viet Noodle Bar - Atwater

We started with the Banh Nam (tamales) & they were ok. The rice flour dough was more starchy than most bahn nam we eat and the fresh springrolls were flavorful, fresh and tasty, but should have ordered 2 servings of each because the orders are quite small. The friendly, warm service made up for that. The periwinkle/apple juice was nice & different. Then we had the $9 Pho (bland) , but were even more surprised that it did not come with a vegetable plate (no sprouts, basil, lime). Having a $9 Pho without these accompaniments is almost sacrilegious. But they had just opened , so maybe the kitchen still needs to work out some "minor" details. The few 4 items we ordered was pretty much half of their menu, at the time. We'll return to try another meal, but not until they add more to their menu.

Viet Noodle Bar - Atwater

Help LA chowhounds !! We had lunch at Viet Noodle bar on December 4,2007 and granted, it was still brand new. Their menu was still small and were told that they were adding some new dishes soon. We ordered 5 items ( which was pretty much half of the menu) . Has anyone eaten there recently to know if they've added some new stuff to their menu? We'd like to return for another visit , but only if they've added more noodles to the menu. We haven't been able to find any Chow reviews on this place yet. Thanks for helping our hungry souls.

Pizza Downtown

Pitfire is satisfying, although they can be a bit pricier. Big Mamma's Pizza ( Flower/Sixth) offers an affordable, huge slice if you want something quick & lighter on the pocketbook. Lamonica's is also good, especially when you can get a fresh, hot slice. We're not too picky and we like just about any pizza. Los Angeles Pizza Company is our next stop this week. Can't wait!

Vietnamese bakeries?

A great place to introduce you to what you are looking for and "all of the above" is the South/West corner of Bolsa & Magnolia, where the ABC supermarket is located. Park your car, start on the ABC end of the center and you'll be a whole different world.This bustling corner of stores has Banh Mi Che Cali, where you can find good baguettes, rolls, che, springrolls, and many, many other pastries that everyone has suggested. A few stores down you will find Van's Bakery, where you can further explore cakes, tarts,hot pandan waffles ,more pastries , candies and other unique treats to satisfy your sweet tooth. While you're there, stop by the two incredible fruit stores that stock fantastic, unique fruits and vegetables. If you're wanting to support the local gardeners, you'll find a Viet grandma or two on the sidewalk selling their home grown goods straight from their garden.
There's also a bunch of eateries, a water store where you can get fresh sugar cane juice, a toy vendor on the sidewalk to sell you next years x-mas gifts, a hair salon that will give you a decent cut for just $7, a liquor store to get your lottery tickets and plenty of ATM machines at the B of A in case you run out of cash.
If you don't find what you're looking for here, move on to the rest of the Bolsa & Brookhurst recommendations. Have Fun!

Vietnamese Lemongrass Tofu Bánh Mì

Hi Crt,
Yes there is quite a bit of prepping &b assembly involved, but it's worth the effort, especially if you are making a large quantity. Potlucks or party dishes would be great. You can shorten the marinade time, and the tofu would still taste great, but the pickles would not have the flavor that they normally do. It's actually better to make pickles ahead of time (3-5 days) and this will eliminate 1/3 of the time. If you are close to a Viet grocer, you can even buy the pickles already prepared. If I can figure out a faster way, I'll certainly let you know! :)

Good Food Gal,
Great idea on the tomato soup, I have a perfect recipe that will go great with the sandwich. If you have problems finding lemongrass, I grow lots of it. I can send you a few stalks! Just let me know! It's light, so postage would cost a few cents.

Jan 05, 2008
whiteonricecouple in Recipes

Vietnamese Lemongrass Tofu Bánh Mì

Jan 03, 2008
whiteonricecouple in Recipes

Honda-Ya Tustin, lately?

We were there twice about a month ago. The first time there were about 10 of us who all ordered different dishes so we could all share. Honda-ya was slammed as usual even though is was 10:30 p.m. in the middle of the week. Service was prompt and they nailed everything that we ordered. Everything was as good as it always has been since we've been there in the last 9 years. The eggplant was excellent, as were the short ribs, garlic spinach, several different grilled fish (I forget which ones we ordered, now), the gizzards, and the quail eggs. They have changed the soju in their ...-hai drinks. They unfortunately aren't as good now. The rest was excellent. Nobody had any complaints, and these were mostly people who were very familiar with Japanese pub style food. The neophytes were impressed as well.
On the second visit, there were 5 of us, and the experience was similar. The only thing that seems to have changed other than the soju cocktails is that they are now so busy all the time that they aren't as personable as they used to be. The service has been efficient, they aren't as likely to be sharing the sake with you. But considering they amount of people they continually have to service, and how cheap the food while being so tasty, we don't think that is a valid complaint. We hate it when one of our favorite places don't deliver like they used to, but we can't include Honda-ya in that category yet. Not from our experience.

Using a barrel smoker/bbq with a side fire box

I've only had mine a year, so am not an expert, but here are my findings.
First ?. Correct. Put your coals in the barrel side & use like a classic Weber.

Second ?. I've only done the first three. Sorry I can't help with the chicken But my best guestimate would be about half that time. I would say an hour, hour and a half if it was butterflied. Brine it if you have time before.
For the others, I didn't ever tent and they were all very moist. The brisket I do for about 8 hours trying to keep the chamber temp around 275-300. I use a disposable aluminum pan to cook it, basting along the way. Keep cooking until it easily pulls apart.
Ribs were about 4-6 hours if I remember correct. Same thing, when it is fall off the bone tender, you are good.
Shoulder was about 6-8 hours.
Fourth ?. I soak the chips, you get better smoke & they will last a bit longer. If you can find chunks, I usually don't bother.
The fun, yet tricky part is maintaining the temp. When you add the chips, it will initially cool things off. Fan up your coals to compensate. I'm always adjusting the vents. Especially the first couple hours. Like you said, more open, more heat. Close them down for less. I usually add coals 4-5 times for the longer cooks. Sometimes using the chimney to pre-heat if the temp has dropped too low & I can't get it up very well with fanning. The smoke is what gets the good flavor. Keep adding the chips or chunks when you notice the smoke is minimal. Have fun. I've loved cooking with mine. A great reference I've used is the "Barbecue Bible" by Steven Raichlen. If you have time, pick it up. It will probably be able to help more than me.

Banh Mi in Westminster?

Oops, a midnight typo. #2 is Tip Top Sandwiches, (not Baguette)

Banh Mi in Westminster?

Bánh Mì Chè Cali is a thumbs up & you can't beat the price: buy 2 get one free. For the best experience of the three locations we suggest the lively Brookhurst/Westminister location to see all the bread coming fresh, hot out of the oven. You can see the bustling kitchen frying all of the sweet bánh tiêu, bánh cam (fried mochi balls filled with sweet mung bean), & the chewy giò cháo quẩy for all their locations.
Don't waste your time on Top Baguette; here some other great suggestions:

1.Bánh Mì Saìgòn (SW corner Magnolia/Westminister)...The crackily, crust on the bread is steller, in our opinion. The fillings are good & satisfying but try to go earlier in the day for best bread. Sandwiches come in your choice of baguette or "boule" rounds. Also buy 2 get one free on their "rounds".
2. Tip Top Baguette ( definately not to be confused with Top Baguette).. Brookhurst/Westminister... Since the change in ownership the notable, thinner, crusty bread is a far change from the original. The sandwiches are usually always full with flavorful fillings. These baguette sandwiches are thin, long( half of the baguette without the ends cut off) & satisfying. Good Việt vegetarian sandwiches too.
3. Tân Hoàng Hương Bakery ( 15972 Euclid St. #A in Fountain Valley, Euclid/Edinger). The bread is not as crackily, crusty as the others but the sandwiches on whole are well made. The fillings are fresh and right in front of you to see as they are assembled. Unlike most other places where sandwiches are assembled behind a blocked work station or away from sight, this clean place has all the ingredients for you to see. Nothing to hide.
4. Zòn...( if you are outside Westminister, visiting Tustin...14081 Newport Ave.)...worth mentioning if your cravings can't make it to Westminister. The owner seems to have lots of pride in preparing their sandwiches....takes longer to assemble than the other zippity places, but the meat fillings are O so fresh and flavorful.

Hope you have fun visiting our favorite spots. Too bad you can't wait a few more days for our "Battle of the Bánh Mì's" page to come out. We really battle it out ( between ourselves) about the better Bánh Mì. We still have lots of eat for we still want to re-visit other places we haven't been to in a while. You can reference our "Việt Baguette" page on for more location info.

Blossom Việt Restaurant...downtown LA

Quite respectfully, we never said we were averse to going to Chinatown. Chinatown has been a jewel for us in many ways, including food. But when there are times when we would like to walk to a restaurant ( as with many dowtown inhabitants due to the cost of parking) rather than walk the 15 blocks . It's nice to have something within a 10-15 miute walking distance than to fight the downtown lunch traffic and parking, thus for us eateries on the south side of the 101 is convenient . In due time, a plethora of restaurants will be opening soon within 1st & 11th st. & so we hope to share these new restaurant experiences with everyone on chowhound. In the meantime, you'll find us in Chinatown slurping away.

your favorite cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches?

I'm in the Gruyère club. Some paper thin slices of onion, thin slices of tomato (Kitchen Queen makes a mean grill cheese I can tell) a hit of balsamic. On a rustic Italian or French loaf. Grilled with butter (go mojoeater) Then grainy or deli mustard on the side to dip in. I'm salivating just thinking about it. Smoked gouda a close second.

Blossom Việt Restaurant...downtown LA

Loft living in downtown LA has been great but one challange exists...lack of good Vietnamese restaurants ( especially on the other side of Chinatown...South side of 101 fwy). When Blossom Vietnamese restaurant opened up a year ago (4th/main in the old banking district) we thought it would satisfy our việt appetite and missing link. We're still hungry and lost:
We had the Bún chả giò ( bún noodle with eggrolls): the eggrolls were sooooo greasy and infused with a bad odor of old oil (almost stale, recycled donut oil smelling) . The typical toppings of cucumber, carrot/daikon pickles and bed of lettuce were part of the dish....but absolutely no HERBS of any kind! We searched and searched through the tossed dish hoping to find even a sliver of mint...basil...rau răm...tiá tô...even cilantro?? Nothing. The only flavor to the dish was from the rancid oil smell of the eggrolls and bland ( but slightly sweet/sour) mắm dressing.
Next dish, Bánh Xèo ( crispy crepe): It was anything but crispy. The crepe came to the table soft , thick and densely laden with dry mung beans that made the crepe too moist & heavy. Jicima was a nice addition to the pork/shrimp filling. The accompaning salad plate had a few slices of cucumber, two fresh leaves of lettuce, but only ONE sprig of mint. Never have we ever fought over the dinner table, but the battle over the single sprig of mint at a việt meal was comical. One of the most defining characteristics of Việt cuisine are the herbs and the Bánh Xèo being crispy: both of these were lacking at this dinner. We'd like to go back and give it another try, but feel that our $20 could be spent better elsewhere. Has anyone else tried Blossom? If yes, we'll give it another try if you say so. We'd like to be fair....or better yet, spend our money on wine ( 2 glasses and bruchette and a bowl of tomato soup..$28) at Banquette Cafe 3 stores down ( which is exactly what we did after eating at Blossom).

Best Pho In Little Saigon

The debate over the better Pho bowl continues within my circle, but it ultimately ( agree with kingkong5) ends up being a matter of personal taste & texture. Every bowl of Pho has elements that connect with each & every diner. For my parents , broth is crucial & it must not be sweet , so the Pho 79 location in Little Saigon is top dog (hazard/brookhurst) . The Pho bowl here is well balanced & flavorful. If you are looking for the romance of knowing that your Pho came from the little old lady, then Pho Kimmy fits the bill. My uncle worked in her kitchen and has much respect for the way their Pho is prepared. The owners' father (70 something years old) comes in the kitchen at 4am to start the broth, she then comes in at 7 to continue the watch, & prep the rest of the condiments for the day's batch. Overall consensus from everyone I know who has eaten Kimmy's bowl is positive, even if their preferred style is different. As for us, we enjoy the ritual of making it so much that our home cooked Pho is priority . That's where our Pho bias lies. Good luck & have fun in finding your favorite.

Noodle House in South Orange County??

Hit Honda-ya in old town Tustin. Tasty Japanese pub food. I used to be one of the only white guys, but now it is getting found out. I liked their ramen quite a bit. Actually, I can't think of anything I haven't liked there.

Things I need in [north] OC

There used to be a Santa Monica Seafood in Orange off the 57 and Ball. It's been a while since we've been to that location, so double check if it still exists.

There is the Pacific Ranch Market on Chapman and Newport Blvd, just before Santiago Comm. College. An all-around good small-man grocery. Good meats, cheeses, produce. Can be a bit $$. Hope these help.

Looking for great bread in L.A.

Lee's does produce a good , hot out of the oven baguette. If you enjoy Lee's, then there's so many more baguette pleasures to experience in Little Saigon. If you are a little more daring, good with body language (or even speak a little viet) then you open yourself up to a whole different world of baguette lifestyle outside Lee's. Lee's sells many a baguette because their have a fantastic price: buy one get one free. How can anyone pass it up? Other places have almost the same pricing as well ( they just don't have the big banner outside to advertise it) . So when you're in the area, explore a bit and bite in to something maybe a little crustier & more buttery. Enjoy.

Looking for great bread in L.A.

For sourdoughs & artisinal breads, we can't think of any not already posted, but if you are looking for just a great baguette, hit Little Saigon. There are a plethora of baguette bakeries by the Vietnamese as well as a French/Vietnamese couple. Banh Mi Saigon is our favorite, but we give the main breakdown on our site, on the Viet Baguette page.