By Charly SHELTON
If you have been to the Glendale Galleria recently, you will have noticed some changes going on – some updates. The dirty, well-worn carpet has been replaced by clean, white marble tiles. The brick walls are in the process of being covered in new drywall. And what you once expected as “mall food” is now being redefined, in particular by Chef Kimmy Tang at 9021Pho, a French and Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant.
Pho (pronounced FUH) has become all the rage. You can get pho from street carts, food trucks, hole-in-the-wall eateries and the fanciest of schmancy restaurants. But you’ve never had pho like Chef Kimmy makes. With broth that will change your life, rice noodles, chicken or beef, and then bean sprouts and basil mixed in at the table to taste, you cannot find a better bowl of hot noodle soup in the area.
Even though it is located in the Galleria, this is not mall food. I can understand a California Pizza Kitchen being in a mall. Or a Rainforest Café. Those are real restaurants, but somehow seem to fit well in a mall. But 9021Pho seems like it should be a restaurant out on the boulevard in the nicer part of Beverly Hills.(There happens to be a sister restaurant in Beverly Hills) When dining here, especially out on the patio with fire glass all around and soothing French music playing, you feel transported to somewhere that is not the Glendale mall. You can buy new insoles at Target and then go have lunch in an upscale fusion restaurant all within about a two-minute stroll.
At a private menu tasting held earlier this week, invited guests were treated to the best that 9021Pho has to offer, which is pretty astounding. Panko fried whitefish in a spicy French aioli. French onion soup. Mock chicken made of soy that you would swear came from a real animal. Pork spring rolls so light and fresh that you would think the garden was right around the corner.
And in fact it is. Throughout the restaurant are walls covered in live plants where Chef Kimmy grows her herbs, spices and peppers in an organic garden. You are dining next to the garden where your dinner was grown. This is not only a nice touch for the food, but adds the right ambience in which to enjoy your meal.
I would recommend 9021Pho to anyone who will listen. If you are in the mood for a selection of classic Vietnamese foods with a French flair, you will want to try 9021Pho at the Glendale Galleria.