Expect 20 variations of Vietnamese noodle soup, which each come in monstrous bowls loaded with rice noodles and cuts of beef like filet, flank, brisket, tendon and tripe. It’s best to go with the signature filet mignon, served raw so it cooks in the hot broth until changing color from pink to brown. 27. Chin, Nam, Gau, Gan, Sach ($5.50) includes well done brisket, flank, brisket point, tendon and tripe. The intoxicating cinnamon-tinged broth (clear to start, light on anise) supports thin-shaved onions, scallions and cilantro. Crunchy bean sprouts, spicy jalapenos (seeds, stems and all), squeezable lime wedges and a garden’s worth of herbs are all at your disposal, including basil and sawtooth herb (aka culantro).
I initially forgot to order filet mignon, but the Nguyens gladly added a sizable side, along with a bowl of broth, since it was apparently better to cook the beef instead of adding it to directly the soup.
Little Saigon deserves the bulk of the hype for Vietnamese food in Southern California, but Pho Filet is a spot that can hold its own with some of Orange County’s best.