Pho Filet: Striking Noodle Soup Gold in South El Monte

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South El Monte has become a pho hub, with family-run spots lining Garvey Avenue, and so far, the Nguyen family’s Pho Filet is the standout establishment in my explorations.

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.

Grilled Pork Rolls (3 for $3.25) featured rice paper cradling thin sheets of seared pork, lettuce and rice vermicelli, which tastes good to start, and even better when dipped in savory sauce.

Sinh-To Bo ($2.50) is a creamy avocado milk shake that incorporates fresh shucked fruit.

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.

Address: 9463 Garvey Avenue, South El Monte, CA 91733, USA

Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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