Pho Thanh Lich, the winner of our Final Pho Tournament of a few years back, has changed locations. The lease on the old location reportedly ran out, so they upped and moved.
This is not the first old-school Little Saigon restaurant to pull up stakes and migrate lately. Pagolac, the venerated 7 courses of beef restaurant also moved to a new, if less visible location. But Pho Thanh Lich's new home at 13135 Brookhurst St. in Garden Grove is not just less visible, it's hidden. The place seems wedged underneath the armpit of one of those crowded, two-story mini-mall edifices.
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Here's a snippet of what I wrote of its old place.
The room smells of the sour tang of dried mops, mildewed dish rags and sweat. There are what appear to be Christmas garlands left up from holidays long forgotten. A tired, droopy-eyed old woman doesn't even bother with the niceties, her demeanor as no-nonsense as the bowls that come out of the kitchen. She drops the menu in front of you as if she's tossing a bone to a dog. She jots down your order quickly without any acknowledgment that you're a paying customer. Around you, like-minded thrifty souls gather, the restaurant filling up the later it gets. Here, like nowhere else, there's the feeling of community among strangers, a shared experience of something good, something special: the pho.