9021PHO is a hidden secret. Except it’s in clear sight.
Kim Kardashian knows about it. Her 1st meal after delivering North West was 9021PHO take-out. Superman Returns star Brandon Routh stopped by for a bite. Jackie Chan, Larry King, and Colin Farrell are also fans.
Believe it or not, the upstart Vietnamese food chain is at Westfield malls. The original is a stand-alone in the heart of Beverly Hills. A second was opened in 2011 in Westlake Village.
Owner and Founder Chef Kimmy Tang was looking for a central kitchen when she came upon an opening at Sherman Oaks Fashion Square mall. It was the space vacated by California Pizza Kitchen.
Westfield had other ideas: they propagated a partnership. Tang opened two locations in December 2012 in Sherman Oaks and at the Glendale Galleria. In the 11 months since, the locations have grown phenomenally. And the popularity has translated to the Beverly Hills location which has seen a 100% growth.
Just for You
A casual service restaurant, delivery and take-out orders account for a large part of business. However don’t let the neighboring neon signs and mannequins fool you. A sit-down meal is a classy affair. Refinely decorated and manned with personable wait staff, the locations compliment the freshness of the ingredients. There’s an herb wall and an open exhibition kitchen as well as a heated patio. And a wine menu, with beer and saké also served.
The food is the furthest from what’s thought of as “mall food.” Extraordinarily and surprisingly tasty, Chef Tang’s Vietnamese food comes with a French and a Californian twist. Oils are kept to a minimum. Fresh Rolls are made with jiacma instead of vermicelli.
Good for You
The restaurants will accommodate those with food allergies. Chef Kimmy whipped up a special fish dumpling for me. The delicious Charbroiled Pork Bún Salad and Lemongrass Fish are just some of the gluten-free items. There’s also a wide vegetarian selection including the Mock Chicken Tamarind.
If you’re not a fan of eggplant, the Garlic Eggplant might change your mind. Savory and sweet, it’s served whole, sliced down the middle and grilled. It was amazingly tender and filling. The Pho Curry Chicken is also not to be missed. Though not gluten-free, the Crispy White Fish drizzled with spicy aioli is artfully presented, affordably priced but abundant.
That’s consistent with the menu: good food with sizeable portions at reasonable prices.
The restaurant just appeared at LA Times The Taste and is slated to appear at many more tasting events including the Beverly Hills Food and Wine Festival in November. Chef Kimmy also hosts cooking demonstrations.
Tang also has a strong commitment to children. Her BH location houses an art exhibit to benefit Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. She also travelled to orphanages in Romania and Mexico, teaching them how to utilize the ingredients available to make Vietnamese and Chinese recipes. Tang was a TV host in Romania as well as culinary consultant to the largest film studio there.
9021PHO has four locations, with more destined to come.