Thankfully, China Beach has risen to the challenge of providing authentic Vietnamese cuisine in Los Angeles, including Pho (pronounced "fuh"), a generous-sized bowl of noodles served in a gently flavored sweet onion broth and garnished with Thai basil, bean sprouts and a finishing accompaniment of Sriracha hot sauce. This popular dish is what many people associate with Vietnamese cuisine, which can also be enjoyed with chicken or thinly sliced beef. For those who do not eat meat, the soup, along with all other dishes, can be prepared vegetarian style.
For the lunch crowd, a familiar item is the Banh Mi ($3.50), a baguette filled with your choice of meat accompanied by a refreshing pickled carrot and daikon mixture. Try one of the five appetizers, notably Goi Cuon ($4.50), rice paper wraps filled with fresh vegetables, mint and cilantro. Chao Tom is another interesting combination, consisting of sugarcane sticks covered with minced shrimp and lightly deep-fried.
Combination platters, with your choice of rice or noodles and an over-medium egg, include Com Cha ($7.95), an excellent meatloaf served with a deep-fried Imperial roll. The grilled five-spice chicken, or Ga Dui ($7.95), is extremely moist, as is the Com Thit Nuong ($7.95), skewered chicken and beef served with tangy fish sauce. All skewers are served a la carte, with the pork skewers being my particular favorite.
Freshly brewed rice and sweet teas cool your palette from the chili and hot sauce, a delicious beverage you’ll likely consume with your meal. But make sure you save room for the rich coconut Flan ($2) topped with caramel sauce. This rich dessert is especially delicious when paired with the pungent Trung Nguyen coffee.
Located on the corner of North Venice and Pacific Blvd., this cozy bistro is in a prime area across from the romantic canals of Venice and just one block from the beach. You can sit outside on the patio area and enjoy China Beach Bistro’s customary decor of paper lanterns and bamboo trees. You may also bring your own alcohol, conveniently available at a liquor store adjacent to the restaurant that boasts an extensive collection of wine.