In Search of Light, Delectable Chicken Pho Noodle Soup - A Pho Ga Journey


For some odd reason I felt a craving for Chicken Pho a few months back. A bowl of light, clear chicken broth, piping hot, some noodles and a bit of fresh herbs / veggies. Maybe it was because of the biting cold wintry nights? :slightly_smiling:

Thanks to all the great FTC recommendations I managed to try some of the favorites.

Pho Ngoon
Located next to the Newport Seafood spinoff - Boston Lobster - Pho Ngoon is noticeably cleaner and hipper than the usual Pho places I’ve been to. And like TonyC said, it indeed was playing EDM non-stop the entire time we were there! LOL. :laughing:

Chicken Pho:

The broth was more complex and savory than the other places we tried. Tasty on its own (without any sauces or additions), definitely sip-worthy. The chicken tasted not as fresh or firm as the other shops, but still had great flavor. A good bowl of Chicken Pho, better than the random places I’ve tried these Vietnamese noodles at in the past.

Pho Ngoon
741 E Valley Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 872-2729

HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh

A mouthful of a name, HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh seems to be the heavy favorite amongst the FTCers. We were super excited to try this place. When we showed up there was a sizable line and wait.

We ordered their Pho Ga (Chicken Pho Noodles):

A sip of this broth was like a bit of a revelation (kinda like when I tried Langer’s Pastrami for the first time) - “So this is how Chicken Pho should be!” Seriously, it was magical in its purity. It just tasted like a nice piping hot bowl of fresh, pure Chicken Soup, lightly salted, and just GREAT. :heart:

And while the soup was light, they have this magical dipping sauce served with the bowl of Chicken Pho, where you can dip the Free-Range Chicken into. The chicken itself was super fresh, meaty and with the ginger dipping sauce, just awesome! :smile:

A word to the wise: Order the Small bowl of noodles. Seriously, we had 3 people that day (2 guys) and no one could finish the soup and noodles. Huge value for $6 for a Small portion! :slightly_smiling:

Huge thanks to @liq TonyC @raytamsgv and all! :slightly_smiling:

We also tried their Hainan Chicken Rice (forgot to take a pic), which uses the same Vikon (Free-Range) Chicken that TonyC mentioned. It was OK, the chicken was very fresh and tasty, they had 2 types of sauces to dip in and it came with a bowl of broth (savory, darker broth). The rice itself was flavored, but wasn’t as flavorful as Savoy, but then again I’m no expert.

(Cash Only)

HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh
8930 Mission Dr., Suite 102
Rosemead, CA 91770
Tel: (626) 288-9999

Pho Hai Phong

Next up was Pho Hai Phong. It has a smaller menu than any of the other shops we went to, really focusing on Chicken Pho.

Chicken Pho:

Hai Phong’s broth is more flavorful and savory than HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh, but Pho Ngoon’s is even more savory and complex. This place also served that Vikon Free-Range Chicken and it was also fresh and firm. The ginger dipping sauce was a bit sweeter than HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh’s version.

The one minor thing was that the portion was smaller than HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh, although we’re not complaining considering it was about the same price as well $7. :slightly_smiling:

Big thanks to secretasianman BarryC and @liq for the rec!

(Cash Only)

Pho Hai Phong
10990 Lower Azusa Rd., #2
El Monte, CA 91731
Tel: (626) 448-8890

Pho Quang Trung

After @Porthos @theoffalo and @JThur01 gave this place a strong rec, I had to give it a try as well. Pho Quang Trung is located deep in the heart of Little Saigon. Most tables seemed to have had a bowl of Pho Ga sitting on their tables (along with other stuff).

Pho Ga:

As soon as the waitress asked us if we wanted our Chicken Pho with or without Chicken Gizzard, Liver, Blood, and choice of white or dark meat, I could see why @theoffalo liked this place. :wink: It was the only Chicken Pho place I’ve been to so far that had the option to add offal to your bowl of Chicken Pho (no extra charge); interesting.

Their Chicken Soup was saltier (in a good way) and more savory than either HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh or Pho Hai Phong.

The Chicken was a gorgeous yellow-gold hue and tasted fresh. But there was no ginger dipping sauce (boo), something I really enjoyed at HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh and Pho Hai Phong.

Still the crunchiness of the Chicken Gizzard and the choice of white or dark meat chicken was appealing and made the bowl standout.

Another rock solid bowl of Chicken Pho!

Pho Quang Trung
9211 Bolsa Ave Suite 101-103
Westminster, CA 92683
Tel: (714) 891-2800

In the end, I thought all of these Chicken Pho specialists were great. My favorite would have to be HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh. It’s just the lightest, more delicate bowl of Chicken Broth with the fresh Free-Range Chicken and a huge value (massive bowl of noodles, chicken & soup) for the price. And their dipping sauces made the Chicken even more enjoyable. But I’d be glad to hit up any of these places if I was in the area and be happy. :smile:

Update 2:

At the behest of TonyC I wanted to do a comparison of the 2 Pho Ga Bac Ninh restaurants, curious to see if there was a difference. Then since blimpbinge brought up another Chicken Pho restaurant near that one, we might as well see what that’s all about. So the journey continues…

Pho Ga Bac Ninh

I was definitely eager and curious to try this original location and see how it compared to my current favorite, HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh off of Rosemead.

When we sat down, I noticed something odd: The menu, logo and some of the dishes looked different from the menu at the Rosemead location for HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh. I asked the waitress, who directed me to another waitress who spoke English: She said, “We are not related. Same name, different owner.” Wow. :open_mouth:

I guess that’s why the Rosemead one has a “HP” in their full name (HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh)?

Chicken Pho:

Seriously, looking at the metal bowl presentation, it would’ve fooled me that these 2 restaurants weren’t related. The soup? Wow, really savory. There’s a good burst of flavor and is probably the most savory broth of the Pho Ga places I tried.

The Chicken, however, while Free-Range Vikon Chicken, tasted like day-old Chicken (to borrow a term from our old board). It tasted like chicken that had been leftover from the previous day. Not bad, still moist, but it had that funk.

The soup was fantastic, though. And perhaps I went on an off day. Ultimately, my friend and I both agreed that HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh seemed to be better in every way, but the broth here is more savory and different (in a good way).

(Cash Only)

Pho Ga Bac Ninh
605 N. New Ave., Ste. C
Monterey Park, CA 91755
Tel: (626) 288-1448

Pho Ly Thuong Kiet
Thanks to @blimpbinge for bringing up this place. They are indeed another restaurant specializing in Chicken Pho Noodles. :slightly_smiling:

Pho Ga:

The Chicken Broth is cloudy, but it’s all about the taste right? Well after a few sips the flavor was fine. It’s a solid chicken broth, saltier than many of the Pho Ga specialists we visited earlier, but still fine.

The chicken tasted old, though. It wasn’t bad or inedible, just not fresh.

Ultimately, it was a perfectly serviceable bowl of Chicken Pho, but with so many specialists in the area that are better, it makes it hard to come back here unless you were in the same strip mall and didn’t feel like driving.

Pho Ly Thuong Kiet
303 E. Garvey Ave.
Monterey Park, CA 91755
Tel: (626) 572-3181

At this point, as a sanity check I wanted to revisit my favorite and see if it was just as good as I remembered it:

HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh (Re-Visit)

Pho Ga (Chicken Pho Noodle Soup), Small:

One quick note: I made a mistake in my original review. HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh’s bowl of noodle goodness is only $6 a bowl(!) :open_mouth:, sheesh.

First sip: Oooooh yeeeaaahhh! :heart_eyes: This is exactly how I remembered the broth. It’s just pure, bright Chicken Goodness in a Bowl. It’s delicate, dances with your taste buds. SO GOOD! :smile:

Then we tried their Free-Range Chicken: Fantastic! Fresh-tasting, like it was cooked just for us (but obviously not, but certainly today, and not leftovers). The Vikon Chicken is really meaty, moist, firm, but has enough tenderness to it.

And then their Ginger Dipping Sauce makes the Chicken stand out even more.

I was glad to try out the other Chicken Pho specialists on this journey. My friend and I both agreed HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh (off of Rosemead) was our favorite, but many of the other specialists were pretty darn good in their own right.

(Cash Only)

HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh
8930 Mission Dr., Suite 102
Rosemead, CA 91770
Tel: (626) 288-9999

Update 3:

With the chilly So Cal weather, it felt like the perfect time to get some light, warming Chicken Pho. :slight_smile: And with some new recommendations from @JeetKuneBao, it turned into a nice little Pho Ga Journey, Part 3.

Pho Ga Hai Van

This is a tiny little shop, with only a few tables, but as we walked in, we were warmly greeted by what looks like a family operation. It was pretty packed already, but thankfully we found a table with no wait.

Pho Ga Hai Van’s specialty (as listed in their name) is Pho Ga (Chicken Pho). They had 4 options for their bowls of Noodles: Just Chicken Soup and Noodles (No Meat), Pho Ga with Chicken Breast, Pho Ga with White & Dark Meat and Pho Ga with Drumsticks (which surprisingly was the most expensive option).

Pho Ga Uc Canh Dui (Combination Chicken Noodle Soup):

We chose the Combination (White & Dark Meat) Chicken Noodle Soup, so we could try both types of meat. The Chicken Broth was pretty clear. Taking a sip, it’s warming on the chilly day, well balanced, not too salty or bland, and tasting like a very good Chicken Broth. :slight_smile:

You can choose to have Raw or Cooked Bean Sprouts (we went with Cooked, per our waitress’ suggestion) and adding in the various Vietnamese Herbs with the Bean Sprouts and Chicken and taking a bite… delicious! :blush:

The Chicken Breast tasted a touch old (like it was from the previous day, It might’ve just been an aberration), but still pretty tasty. The Dark Meat was very fresh and tender.

One interesting note, there was 1 Herb that Pho Ga Hai Van had that we hadn’t seen at any of the previous (or later) Pho Ga shops, something the waitress called Rau Yup Ga (Diep Ca) (@Ns1 @attran99 let me know if I mangled that spelling!) :sweat_smile: which had this very unique, earthy, pungent aroma. It lent a distinct flavor to the bowl of Chicken Noodles that made it memorable.

Their Ginger Dipping Sauce was a touch on the sweet side for me, but still nice and spicy (from the Grated Ginger).

Cha Gio (Egg Rolls):

I’m always on the lookout for great Vietnamese Egg Rolls so we had to order some here to try. :wink: These are Homemade Egg Rolls, with a combination of Ground Shrimp & Pork. They were pretty crispy, and a solid rendition of Cha Gio. :slight_smile:

At $7 for a Small Bowl of their Combination Chicken Pho, Pho Ga Hai Van delivers a great value, and a pretty good bowl of Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. We’d be glad to return the next time we’re in the area. :slight_smile:

(Closed Tuesdays.)

Pho Ga Hai Van
14072 Magnolia St., Suite 107
Westminster, CA 92683
Tel: (657) 400-9140

Pho Dakao

The other Pho specialist that @JeetKuneBao recommended, Pho Dakao occupies a small, standalone building partially hidden by the strip mall in front of it.

Chicken Pho is their specialty here as well.

Pho Ga Uc Canh Dui (Chicken Pho Noodle Soup with White & Dark Meat):

One slightly odd thing was that their Pho Ga arrived within like 1 minute(!) of us ordering. :sweat_smile: I get that they have the long-cooked Chicken Soup ready to go, but it was surprising how fast they had the Noodles done (perhaps they had a large batch ready?).

As you can see from the pics, Pho Dakao’s Chicken Broth was a bit on the oilier side. It was probably the oiliest (not in a bad way) of the Chicken Pho places we’ve tried on this journey, but taking a sip, it wasn’t overwhelming (like how you might be overwhelmed by the pure Liquid Pork Fat Broth of places like Ikkousha or Tsujita / Annex.

The White and Dark Chicken meat tasted fresh, but a bit firmer than Pho Ga Hai Van. The Pho Noodles were on the softer side.

When eaten altogether, it was a fine bowl of Pho Ga, but we liked Pho Ga Hai Van more.

Also their Dipping Sauce for the Chicken was just the commonly found Nuoc Cham Fish Sauce, which didn’t go well with the Chicken (compared to the Ginger Sauces at all of the other Pho Ga places we tried).

At $6.25 - $7.25, depending on the combination chosen, Pho Dakao is a nice, affordable bowl of Chicken Pho, but the generic Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce, oilier, more basic Chicken Soup and softer Noodles, means we’d rather go to Pho Ga Hai Van or Pho Quang Trung in the area.

(Cash Only)
(Closed Tuesdays)

Pho Dakao
15532 Ward Street
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Tel: (714) 531-2009

HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh (Revisit)

And we wrapped up this journey with a revisit to our favorite, HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh. When we arrived, there was a wait already with about 10 people ahead of us (but the line moved fast).

Pho Ga (Chicken Pho Noodle Soup), Small:

Just ordering a Small bowl of their Chicken Pho is a huge portion size; it is the biggest portion of Chicken Pho out of all of the places we’ve been to, but it’s not just quantity, but quality…

Taking a sip…

The clarity, delicate balance of deep Chicken Broth flavors. It’s not too salty, just so pure in its taste. It’s just outstanding Chicken Broth! :blush:

The White and Dark Meat Chicken is fresh tasting, tender, yet still having some meatiness to it. Their Grated Ginger Sauce is excellent and gives each bite a nice spiciness. :slight_smile:

The balance of flavors, pureness of Chicken Soup and fresh Free-Range Chicken makes this our favorite bowl of Chicken Pho in LA/OC. :heart: So good!

Cha Gio (Egg Rolls):

HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh’s Vietnamese Egg Rolls arrive piping hot. They are very crispy and slightly crunchy, not overly salty, and just a nice filling of Marinated Ground Pork, Veggies and the selection of Lettuce Leaves, Herbs provided to wrap the Egg Rolls in are immaculate and fresh.

This was a surprisingly good set of Vietnamese Egg Rolls, and something we’d be glad to order again next visit with our Chicken Pho. :slight_smile:

In the end, with the most well-balanced, purest and flavorful Chicken Broth, fresh, tender Free-Range Chicken, HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh is our favorite bowl of Chicken Pho around. At $7 for a (massive) “Small” order of Chicken Pho, it is also the best QPR around and ridiculously great in value. :slight_smile:

After HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh, I think it’s a pretty close tie with Pho Ga Hai Van (thanks again @JeetKuneBao) and Pho Quong Trung (thanks again to @theoffalo @JThur01 @Porthos).

No matter what, all of these places delivered some wonderful bowls of heart-warming Chicken Noodle Soup, perfect for our chilly weather in So Cal.

(Cash Only)

HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh
8930 Mission Dr., Suite 102
Rosemead, CA 91770
Tel: (626) 288-9999

It's Raining in Los Angeles! What Are You Eating?
Of Delectable Meatball Sandwiches, Refreshing Cococane, Steaming Beef Noodle Soups, Crunchy & Silky Rice Cakes and Vietnamese Ice Coffee - A Weekend in Little Saigon [Thoughts + Pics]

Thanks for reporting back, and great pics too!

Now I want some chicken pho…


That’s great FTC’ing. Reminds me of exilekiss of old…


Great roundup!

Love the pictures and detailed review.

What’s the next topic? :wink:


Could it be?


Thanks @theoffalo, @Porthos . It was thanks to your rec and others that helped me find these places. :slightly_smiling:

JL, I only follow in the footsteps of people like you, ek and others. It was thanks to all of you that I started learning about good places to eat. I figured I should pay it forward and try and share what I ate in case others might find something useful. :slightly_smiling: One day I’ll be able to hit up Tempura Endo thanks to your great report.


Apologies @J_L @Porthos. I freely admit to stealing ek’s formatting from our old board. :frowning: I thought it was a nice format (restaurant name, report, then address) because I found it useful to track down restaurants.

I’ll reformat my reports to not plagiarize. Sorry about that. I feel bad about this; I think I’ll just excuse myself from the board.


Great review. Btw you should ask for offal if you want it, even if they don’t offer - I have vivid memories of my dad doing this all the time.

I guess I’m gonna have to eat some pho ga with my parents next time I’m down.


@Chowseeker1999 please don’t stop!

You misunderstood. EK’s reports were invaluable and enjoyed by all.

I for one find your reports on that level of great.

Please continue and use whatever format you wish! It’s reports and enthusiasm like yours that makes these boards a joy to read. It’s what the OG CH was supposed to be.

@matthewkang give @Chowseeker1999 a freelance job already!




He’s definitely on that track but the photography needs to be better. As a rule, try to take photos from overhead or from a 90 degree angle. Taking from eye level just looks…boring.


Great report! While I miss the scale of Chowhounds, I am headed to Baltimore in April and would love some recent reports on what is great there (my daughter’s birthday), the quality of this type of report is not to be found there anymore. Thank you!


Like Porthos said: Please continue!

I mentioned EK only because you evoked the overall feeling of his wonderful posts. It was meant as pure compliment.


Wouldn’t every photo taken from only overhead or 90 degrees be by definition boring? Sometimes that eye level shot gives the best overall impression of a dish regarding depth and size.


Great report! I’m craving some pho ga right now :stuck_out_tongue:

If you’re ever up north, Oakland has a few decent pho ga joints. Good hot breakfast option whenever I have an early flight enroute to the city.


Agree - If you have a nice lens with decent bokeh, eye level (or just a bit above it) is one of the best ways to photograph nigiri. Example (from akami at Shunji last week):


always great to have some sort of codification; that’s a LOT of carbs. Quick question to OP (and all): is there discernible difference between OG PGBN (on New Ave) than the new PGBN (on Mission)? I’m selfishly asking because 1 is a lot closer than the other and I haven’t gone to the new one.


Maybe, but if you want style, it’s better to show a POV that’s NOT going to be the one that you’ll have while you’re eating it. Flip through an issue of F&W or Bon Appetit and tell me how many shots are eye level or a 45 degree angle.


This is probably close to a 90 degree angle, which is what I was referring to. “eye level” is 45 degrees, as if you were looking at the plate or dish from where you’re sitting


That said, I think there are definitely exceptions, like this photo: