pho stop in the OC

A few weekends ago, I was in Orange County for a bachelorette getaway with some friends for my little sister.  I made us a reservation for Sunday lunch at Twenty Eight Restaurant, owned and run by Shirley Chung from Top Chef® season 11.  (  We were so excited – especially as Asian American women rooting for an Asian American female chef and huge fans of Top Chef®.  I made the reservations online but because our party was so big and the website stated that they were closed on Sundays, I called twice to confirm that we were a go.  And both times, I spoke to a “Giselle” and my reservations were confirmed.  But when we got to the restaurant, it was CLOSED.  WTF.  So, while in the middle of trying to celebrate my sister’s special weekend, we were left with nowhere to eat lunch.  OMG.

Thanks goodness, there is no shortage of places to eat in Orange County.  So, we headed down the road to a big shopping complex off Alton Parkway in Irvine for some Asian food.  We were feeling like noodles and headed in to Saigon Pearl for some Pho.

I started off with a Vietnamese Coffee to help the headache I developed after finding out Twenty Eight was CLOSED.

image  I had never had one served ready made before – usually, you get glass of ice with condensed milk and a metal contraption with drip coffee coming through.  As a result of being ready made, is was not that strong and had a lot of lactose. 😛

We got things started with some spring rolls:

image I didn’t understand the radish garnish on the side and these were just OK.  It’s got pork slices and shrimp inside and 2 rolls were for $6.  I guess I’m used to Chinatown prices – this was kinda steep.

My sister got the Pho Ga, or chicken pho.

image  When I was traveling through Vietnam, I was told that the quality of the broth determines how good the Pho is.  This one was great – the broth was intense with herbs and flavor.  Yummy.

I got their Bun (dry vermicille noodle bowl) with shrimp, grilled pork, and egg rolls:

image  I loved this.  Had the right amount of veggies to protein and the fish sauce concoction that you pour over this had so much flavor.

Our other friend go the beef bun:

image  Also yum.

For dessert, we headed over to 85 degrees bakery.  My sisters loves their taro bread and I actually love their squid ink bread with swiss cheese.  But this time, we got their mango tart and strawberry mochi to share:

image  The mango tart has a mango custard over a pie crust and fresh mangoes with blueberries on top.  It’s not mango season and so the mangoes weren’t all ripe but the flavors were really refreshing.  The strawberry mochi has a red bean filling with strawberries – this was just ok to me but my sister loved it.

For what it’s worth, Twenty Eight Restaurant called me on Monday (before I had a chance to call them) to apologize for the misshap when they realized what had happened.  Not sure how I feel about that, afterall I had called twice to confirm the reservation.  But, in the end, Saigon Pearl and 85 degrees saved the day.

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