Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just Golden.

Last weekend, a bunch of friends went up to Big Bear Lake for a mini getaway. Because of work schedules and the volume of food we were bringing, we ended up taking separate cars to mountains. My pal, Richard and I, made a pit stop at Jonathan Gold's beloved Golden Deli in Alhambra. Hey, we had to kill some time avoiding nasty traffic and what better way then to have a lil' foodie adventure on the way?!?!?

Golden Deli has been on my list for quite some time now. Richard has mentioned it numerous times to all of us and Gold of the L.A. Weekly swears that Golden Deli has the best Vietnamese Spring Rolls. I'm a huge fan of pho and Vietnamese spring rolls, so I was really looking forward to trying this place out.

It's a hole-in-the-wall in a small strip mall and from what Richard was telling me, it's always packed. There's always a line, but for whatever reason we summoned the foodie gods and were able to get a table quickly. It was hustling in there, everyone was intent and focused on their menus and dishes. This isn't a place you screw around, you are there for the food and everyone knows it.

Richard suggested I try their fried pork with steamed rice and this scallion compote. I was game. The fried pork with short-grain steamed rice was tantalizing. Crispy, peppery without feeling heavy in your tummy, I could've devoured all of that pork. The perfect ratio of fat to meat, topped with a compote of scallions - it brightening the pork and your tastebuds.

I had to order a traditional bowl of pho and of course, the spring rolls. Piping hot, crunchy, delicate rolls, stuffed with pork, pepper, and julienned vegetables. One could eat the rolls all by themselves alongside that not-so-powerful fish sauce for dipping or swimming, whatever you prefer. Wrapped in a piece of lettuce with bean sprouts, cucumber, mint and basil, these rolls are worth living and dying for. If you forced me to only order one thing at Golden Deli, it would have to be the spring rolls. They are addictive in every sense of the word.

Pho is a tricky dish, you either love it or you don't. I can't use that four-letter "h" word because my feelings for pho are quiet the contrary. The beef based broth simmers with flavors of anise and other warm spices and the rice noodles swimming in this complex broth are as happy as can be. In terms of protein, your options are plentiful, however, I went a fairly traditional route and had the rare beef and tendon. Paper thin slices of beef garnish the top of your bowl of pho, immediately forcing you to swirl the meat around in the broth so that is properly cooks. A plate full of various condiments and toppings is always served with pho. Each pho joint may do things a lil' different, but the essentials include, sliced onion, jalapeno, lime, bean sprout, basil and mint. It's your choice, add a few tablespoons of hoisin or chili paste too, if you want to kick it up a notch. There isn't one way to do pho, unlike Burger King, YOU CAN HAVE IT YOUR WAY! I've been told pho is the great cure for a hangover, Lord, knows it definitely hits the spot on a rainy day or if you've got the sniffles. Pho is an ironic dish, it's simple and complex.


  1. Oh man, I could KILL for that pho right about now.

  2. I know...I know!!!! People better beware!!! :)