Tacos. Tacos everywhere. There was no pho in sight.
I can tell you about a million sorta good taco trucks and few pretty amazing ones. (I’m sorry El Farolito – San Franciscan Mexican food just never could compare.) I also have my secret secret place that I’ll tell anyone about if they ask – just be prepared for an adventure into Koreatown.
But what came about what like a lightening bolt from God.
One day my dad came home and in his usual rambling of subjects, he asked me if I had seen the new sign. “What new sign?” I asked. “The one for the Reyn. It says they now serve Vietnamese food,” he replied.
“Yeah, the coffee shop on Lake. Near to Orange Grove. I drove by it today and happened to notice that they said the have Vietnamese food. Maybe the coffee shop stuff wasn’t doing to well.”
It could never be Le Petit Cheval, my dearest of dearest, but I had been craving pho (or Noodle Soup) for months and I could at least try to alleviate my desire. It took some doing, as it seems my various friends here in Los Angeles are far from as interested in trying those bizarre places I’m always willing to take on and the ones that would be have limited time. I finally snagged a companion and on a rainy night, we ventured forth.
Located on a dark corner of Lake St. in Pasadena, we found our beacon, a yellow banner shining forth. It was exactly what we were expecting – “Now Serving Vietnamese Food.” We walked up and tried to open the door and then noticed the hand written sign, “We are closing early tonight at 8pm. Sorry.” It was 8:15.
A week or so later, it was raining again and we decided to repeat our journey. There was something so wonderful about the wrinkled, dusty ambiance of old-fashioned American diner serving Vietnamese food. We walked in and it was packed. We found a semi-clean Formica table in the back – it was the only one free – and ordered away.
We got the Reyn Special pho, which was a variety of rare and well-done beef cuts along with beef balls, a Chicken Rice Noodle Soup, an order of Shrimp Spring Rolls, a Thai Ice Tea and their homemade lemonade.
And well, it was mmm mmm good. Not perfection or heaven. But damned satisfying. The bill was a total of $20 (the proprietress apologized about the lagging service – her entire waitstaff of two had called in sick – and she gave us the drinks on the house). We honestly hadn’t noticed a long wait – maybe we were too enthralled by everything being a 1950’s metallic blue.
For now, I think it will work for my pho cravings. If nothing else, I really admire that serves a traditional American breakfast from 6am until 12pm and then switches to a Vietnamese lunch and dinner menu. I have yet to venture into Westminster which supposedly has the best (and cheapest) Vietnamese food in LA, or even the random places I happened to drive by on Las Tunas Dr. in Temple City today.
The only thing I’m truly missing now is a portrait of a water buffalo.