The best Pho on the west coast: Pho Viet, Santa Clarita, CA 91387
I’ve expanded vegan coverage beyond the San Fernando Valley. I’m now frequenting a new vegan restaurant called Pho Viet in Canyon Country (a city within Santa Clarita). It’s ten minutes North of the East San Fernando Valley; which is not a bad drive if you think about it.
I use to drive from Sylmar or Sun Valley to North Hollywood to eat at vegan restaurants. That drive is around 15-18 minutes. So, driving North 10-15 minutes is not a bad idea. Plus, the drive on the 14 North is scenic; the low foothills of the San Gabriel mountains appear in your rear-view mirror while you drive up towards Placerita Canyon, leaving behind the LA National Forest and smoggy plumes towering over our beloved valley. Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita–it’s still all part of LA County anyway.
Pho Viet is one of the few restaurants on this end of Canyon Country. This particular restaurant is as authentic Vietnamese as it gets. It’s family owned. The new owners just renovated and boosted the menu with comforting Vietnamese dishes.
There are two dishes that are Vietnamese vegan: Vermicelli bowl with Tofu and Grilled Tofu on a bed of broken rice or rice paddies.
The fish sauce is not vegan–so they give me a sweeter soy sauce in a dipping sauce bowl. On the tables, there is a plate that has a bunch of mouth-watering condiments: Siracha, Crushed Red Chili Peppers, Fresh grind of chilli peppers in olive oil, and Soy Sauce.
How to cook Vermicelli noodles with grilled tofu:
1. First dry out your tofu, by pressing it between two paper napkins, then marinate it with 2-4 tablespoons of soy sauce, a quarter of ginger, and a quarter of garlic. Set it aside;
2. Boil the vermicelli noodle in a hot pot for 5-10 minutes (check on the texture, once it softens and easily breaks, it’s ready);
3. Heat a sauce pan and add the a small pinch of salt and a tablespoon of pepper;
4. Drain the noodles and after draining the slices of tofu, place on the hot pan and cook them until they are crispy. Just flip and cook on high heat; the soy sauce will create the grilled taste since you are only using a little oil;
5. Run cold water through the noodles and allow them to air dry;
6. Place the vermicelli in a bowl, add in the grilled tofu, place the pickled carrots and daikon slices on top as you see fit for your taste. Sprinkle lettuce on top.
7. For the authentic asian taste, crush peanuts and place on top of tofu. Bon appetite.
- 8 oz Vermicelli noodle:
- 4 tablespoons of fish* sauce,
- one block of tofu,
- thinly sliced carrots and daikon pickled (2 tablespoons of sugar, 3 tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, with 3 cups of warm water);
- chopped lettuce,
- salt and pepper.
Vermicelli noodle (rice noodle & eggless) can be bought at Asian Markets such as Island Pacific Market in Panorama City, Seafood City Market also in Pan City, and my favorite Bangluck Market in North Hollywood. If you’re lucky, you can find Vermicelli noodles in the “ethnic” section or aisles at grocery stores like Ralphs, Vons, and even Fresh & Easy.