Thursday, October 13, 2005


Did you hear the earth-shattering news? A bowl of 4000-year old noodles was recently unearthed in China, solidifying the Chinese claim to their invention. Read the LA Times article here. All foodies bow down and thank the Ancient Chinese and their noodle-y secrets.

In a bizarre synchronicity, at the same time this discovery was being announced I happened to be eating noodles. I was in San Francisco... I know this is supposed to be an LA blog, but I'll occasionally mention foodie bits outside the basin. You never know when you'll be in the Bay Area with a hankering for a four-millennia old source of nourishment, right?

Here's the dish...

My niece and fellow food crazy Erin lives near on 16th Avenue and Judah... out in "the Avenues," as Bay Aryans call it. The
Avenues are, and have always been, home to a large Asian population. You know what that means. Yummy.

The noodles we had for lunch were just around the corner from Erin's apartment, on a block chock-full of Asian eateries. She recommended two Vietnamese joints; one for rice plates, the other for noodles. The rice plate place has noodles, she said, but if you want noodles, the place across the street is better. Sensing the importance of noodles on this day in history, I opted for the noodlery.

Pho Hoa Hiep, which somehow translates to "Kevin's Noodle House," sports standard noodle house atmosphere: Spartan decor; fluorescent light; all business. Just the noodles, ma'am. The menu begins with Pho, the gold standard of Vietnamese fare: thin rice noodles in a beef broth, with steak, tripe and, other better-not-to ask-if-you're-squeamish bits of cow served with a plate full of other condiments like basil leaves and lemon that you add to taste.

But it was one of those cool, crisp, clear fall days in the City. It was the first inkling of comfort-weather. So I got the beef stew soup with egg noodles (pictured). Oh, man. For the first several bites, I didn't even add any condiments, the seasoning was so perfect "as is." A rich beefy stock (think Campbell's Vegetable Beef-weight) swims with a kaleidoscopic film of chili oil and black pepper. Thin egg noodles were more al dente than I'm used to in Vietnamese soup -- a good thing. But mostly, it was about the generous quantity of hunks of dice-sized flank steak, which was just the right combination of toothsome and tender. It would shred along the grain with a little effort from a chopstick. Although quite lean, the bits of fat on some pieces were creamy and tender, not gristly. And the meat had absorbed the spicy red broth to such a degree that every piece was infused with its stewy essence. I slowly began adding condiments, one by one, to experience the flavors change. By the time I added my second tiny spoonful of the searing infused chili oil on the table, it was too spicy for Sa to handle... not me.

I learned two things this day: the Chinese invented noodles; and there's more to Vietnamese soup than pho. Pho sure.

I'm now going to have to find an equivalent bowl here in LA. Ideas?


  1. you goddamn foodist bloggers and your damn authoritative voice. SHUT THE FUCK UP

    first off, "the avenues" was not always a ethnic asian neighborhood.

    second, you want that heat, no one if fucking with LA on the noodle front you fricken poptarts.

    third, SHUT THE FUCK UP. now, i know i already said this, but some of youz need to hear it like 3 or 4 times.

    ok, back to your blog.

  2. I beg to disagree with Mr. Macbatches on at least one point. There has been a significant Asian population in the Avenues at least since my grandmother lived there in the early part of the century, at which time I believe she strap-on cornholed each and every one of your worthless ancestors.

    If you disagree I shall take up the verbal fisticuffs on your own blog. Which, by the by, displays a pernicious overuse of the rather dated vernacular term "hella."