Jonathan Gold considers Golden Deli one of the 99 essential LA area restaurants. Another LA Weekly reviewer called it the best noodle shop in Southern California. So, despite the prospect of waiting to get in, we (5 of us) headed over there for lunch today to judge for ourselves. About 30 minutes after submitting our name, we sat down and ordered several different noodle dishes: pho (mine with well-done beef, another of us with rare), hu tieu and pork bun. We also had one order of fried spring roll (cha gio). Coconut juice and limeade were also ordered.
The pho broth was well-balanced and soup was noodly, by which I mean that Golden Deli is very generous with the rice noodles. If you don’t eat the soup fast enough, the pasta will swell and fill up the bowl. The bun failed to generate any rave reviews, mainly because the nuoc cham was on the tepid side (not vinegary enough), though tasted by itself it had its merits, with a nice lingering garlicky aftertaste. To underwhelm further, the grilled pork topping was somewhat dry.
But the cha gio was a different matter. It is easily the best version we’ve ever had, very savory and bigger than most Vietnamese versions, an umami bomb. They are served with fresh vegetables on the side: lettuce, mint, cilantro, perilla leaves, bean sprouts, sliced cucumbers, not to mention nuoc cham. I liked it all by itself; the vegetables and sauce seemed to blunt its impressive flavor.
The menu is quite extensive, but most fans go there for the pho and banh hoi.
815 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776