Replaced by Erawan Thai
3589 Refugee Rd
This restaurant, started by a Vietnamese family who recently moved from Cali(fornia), serves Pho (among other Vietnamese dishes), and is intended to be a tribute both to Hua (the restaurant left behind in Cali) and a relative named Jennie. Ergo – Pho Hua Jennie Cali – got that?
PHJC has taken up shop in the old Pad Thai space on Refugee road. Little has been changed outside of the kitchen, and given its oddball southeast Asian strip mall charm, that’s alright with us.
We started our meal with a selection from the khai vi (appetizers) – nem nuong cuon (‘pork on sugar cane stick rolls’). All who tried it were enthused – the pork is grilled on thick sugarcane skewers (from which it presumably gains its sweetness) and forms the center of what is otherwise a fairly typical example of a quality Vietnamese spring roll. Served with a hoisin-esque dipping sauce, this was a crowd pleaser.
Perhaps less exciting was the bun cha gio thit nuong (rice vermicelli with egg rolls and BBQ pork) – a bowl with greens topped with rice noodles, mini egg rolls, and pork, accompanied by a side of a sweet sauce for dressing the dish. As you will see in upcoming reviews, this dish gets a test drive in almost every Vietnamese restaurant we try. The egg rolls (a standard part of this dish) were deemed exceptional, but the pork, which was plentiful, was perhaps a bit lackluster flavor-wise and a bit on the tough side.
Unfortunately we doubled down on pork when ordering, and got the com thit nuong chien cha trung (steamed rice, BBQ pork, fried egg). Same pork, similarly generous quantities, with some rice and a fried egg.
We’ve marked this place for a return trip – we’ve barely scratched the surface of the menu and sense that there is far more to it than what a single visit might reveal. Service was extremely friendly and efficient – if you’re in the area, give it a shot.