Bambou Le Pho, LA
Chrissy ON Aug 20, 2012 AT 12:17 pm
by Chrissy Iley
One of my favourite restaurants in West Hollywood used to be called Green Leaves, except it appeared with musical notes on its entrance and on its menus, so it might have been a miscommunicated version of Greensleeves. It was a vegan Thai restaurant with delicious food and all of Hollywood’s vegans, a hip version of Real Food Daily.
I would regularly see Russell Brand in there, and we’d talk about our cats – Morrissey, his cat had struggled with a house move and was at the time on cat Valium. It seemed to be a thriving place and all of a sudden it was gone and replaced with a Vietnamese called Bambou Le Pho.
I resisted it for the longest time because I thought nothing could ever be better than the coconut milk laced Green Leaves with their special pineapple black rice.
By chance the other day I found myself meeting someone in it. It has meat and therefore no Russell Brand. That aside, it has the best Vietnamese food I’ve tasted and is without doubt one of the hidden gems of LA.
The Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese crepe with shrimp, chargrilled lemongrass steak, mushrooms, beansprouts, served with fresh herbs and rice paper wrap. It’s basically a spring roll which you build yourself. You make the rice paper work by dipping it in hot water and you put in shreds of mint and lettuce and then the shrimp meat and the crispy crepe. So many textures and flavours in one mouthful. And you top it off by dipping it in a piquant peanut sauce.
The chef prepares food for you individually and nothing seems a trouble to her. You can taste the kindness and the pleasure she wants to give in every mouthful.
There is cold vermicelli (noodles that are see through and made from mung beans, with various vegetables, herbs meat or seafood and this comes as a salad with warm egg rolls. Subtly and unusually flavoured.
My favourite is the rice noodle or vermicelli soup. The Pho Ga comes with shredded free range chicken breast and you put in your own herbs, mint and bean shoots. The broth is delicious, but to take it into another dimension comes a shot of liquid ginger which is the most delicious ginger ever tasted.
It is uplifting, interesting, but very clean healthy food. And such a combination is rare.
Dessert is a bowl of cherries and the service is sweet. The value is outstanding. Appetisers are from $5.95 but huge, the soups are $8.95 but serve two or three, the salads similarly priced. You an get mint and ginger tea or a young coconut.
It also does a vegan menu, and before long most of those old customers will be back in force.
Bambou Le Pho, 8351 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069. Tel: 323-848-8881.