Pho, the beef-broth noodle soup that has been a staple of Vietnamese cuisine for more than 80 years, is one of those dishes that many argue long ago reached perfection and should not be altered. The "Noodle Guy" is not one of them. After all, in a city where Korean tacos (and a myriad other variants) from a truck are a huge hit, fusion pho seems like a natural progression.
The owner of Noodle Guy, Hoa Huynh, moved from his native Vietnam to the San Gabriel Valley in 1993 to join family and attended Mark Keppel High School before starting to work in kitchens. At a local Japanese restaurant he tried Kobe beef in the hot pot dish shabu shabu and thought the top-grade meat, famous for its marbled texture rich in unsaturated fat, might taste good in the popular Vietnamese soup. Huynh experimented a bit more, creating his own hot sauce from a special blend of ground and fresh chili. “All my friends loved it,” he said. Huynh thought he had discovered his signature dish that would distinguish him from all the other noodle shops crowding Valley Boulevard: Kobe pho.
Apparently, though, he wasn't the only one with the idea. Once he created his recipe, he checked if anyone else had ever done kobe pho. In the United States he could not find any references, but he found that after he left his native Vietnam, restaurants were experimenting with the dish in Hanoi.
Huynh said Kobe pho has succeeded in being a major draw for customers. His restaurant opened on Valley Boulevard two months ago, and on a recent lunchtime it was packed. But although business is brisk, so far the Kobe pho isn’t making Huynh any money. If he wanted to make a profit on the meat-heavy soup, he’d need to charge $20 for a bowl, he said. Instead, he only charges about $9, figuring that is the maximum anyone will pay for pho, with or without Kobe beef, in the San Gabriel Valley.
Noodle Guy1257 E Valley BlvdAlhambra, CA 91801