Halal phở? Given that we live in a county where halal pizza, halal Chinese food and halal hot dogs are all available, it shouldn't come as a shock that Phở Ellie, OC's first (and, to my knowledge, only) halal Vietnamese restaurant, has opened.
First of all, let's talk about what halal means. It's a term that means
“fit”, as in fit for observant Muslims to eat. In order for an animal's
meat to be halal, the animal's head should be turned to face the
qiblah–the direction of Mecca, which from Southern California is just north of
due northeast–and should be slaughtered by a Muslim who dedicates the
animal's life to Allah and dispatches the animal with one continuous
slash of a sharp blade across the throat. In addition, no part of the pig is halal; all pork is haram (forbidden).
The phở at Phở Ellie is on par with most phở outside of Little Saigon; the broth was reasonably rich, slightly salty, and was actually surprisingly clear–though I wouldn't go as far as calling it Northern-style. The tái (rare beef) was actually rare and the brisket was tender. The beef meatballs, which are not halal–there's so little call for them that it wasn't worth the effort for the owners to make them from hand, and there's no source for prepared halal bò viên–were completely unnecessary.
Separate the clump of noodles as soon as your phở arrives; this way they'll finish cooking while the broth is hot enough to do so. The salad plate was phoned in; just basil, sprouts, chiles and lime. It'd be nice to see a couple of the more interesting herbs on the plate.
It'd be nice to see some of the more “interesting” parts of the cow be made available; fatty brisket, tendons, tripe, etc. Given that this is Fullerton and not Westminster, I'm not terribly surprised at their absence.
In addition, they serve bún with grilled beef instead of grilled pork, and spring rolls where the pork is similarly substituted out. Both are quite good; the gỏi cuốn (salad rolls) need a little bit of help, though, with an insipid flavor that means you might as well just eat the dish of sauce.
This place is a boon for people who are excluded from a huge part of OC's culinary landscape due to dietary restrictions. The phở is passable; for those who don't restrict their diet to halal food, however, the drive to Little Saigon–or to Kim Loan just on the other side of Fullerton–is still far more worthwhile.