Lake Forest residents have one more choice to add to the ever-growing collective of Vietnamese restaurants here. Pho Sapa opened recently in the space vacated by the first incarnation of Chili Chutney, at Jeronimo and El Toro.
The restaurant is advertising two specials to get people in the door right now: pho with well-done brisket or rice with charbroiled pork; both $4.99. We say skip the brisket (fatty is better anyway) and try their bo vien (meatballs), which are the best in the area.
The right Vietnamese meatball is one that offers a challenge to your chompers without being too dense or rubbery. The right texture should be the same as the first few chews through a cube of Bubblelicious, and these balls are just thismuch better than the ones at Pho King Way down the street
The rice noodle excels for the same reason; a triumph over neighboring bowls at Thanh Binh 2 and Pho Majestic. Where Pho Sapa takes a hit is with the broth. It needs a lot of doctoring with sauces and garnishes before carrying much flavor. It's not a deal-breaker, but needs work before it tastes of anything at all.
We were hoping for some dishes special to Sapa in Vietnam, but the menu offers the same broad generics as most other Vietnamese restaurants outside of the specialized places in Little Saigon.
Still, anything that's not another McDonald's is a welcome addition to the most diverse food city in South County.
Pho Sapa is at 25262 Jeronimo Road in Lake Forest. The number is (949) 470-6002.