Pho Filet 2 is the younger but bigger sibling to Pho Filet, one of the San Gabriel Valley Vietnamese restaurants that Jonathan Gold began visiting and writing about almost 10 years ago, back when the very concept of pho had to be explained to readers on the western side of L.A. County. The noodle soup is now a staple for most Angelenos, but the utter madness surrounding it has died down (as the city turns its eyes to ramen). And perhaps Pho Filet's passion for its signature dish has diminished, too. The other sections of the menu offer much more thoughtful dishes.
Often a novel-length menu indicates a restaurant's lack of focus and accordingly, a lack of expertise and deliciousness. But the many dishes listed at Pho Filet 2, it turns out, taste good.
Want a formal feast? The last page of the menu has a list of "specialties" including frogs legs, snails prepared in either garlic sauce or coconut milk, shrimp and catfish in herbs and big hunks of red meat. The prices aren't listed, so be sure to ask before you go ordering off-season clams.
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But perhaps you don't want to spend that kind of money in a restaurant with fluorescent lights and a dirty floor. In that case, skip back to the front page of the menu, where the appetizers are listed. You could maintain a varied diet by just eating from this list of 14 items, including shrimp with green bean cakes, bánh mì of curried chicken and beef meatballs, crepes and various fried spring rolls. But be sure to get a fresh roll. Specifically the bo nuong cuon, a roll of marinated and grilled beef packed with herbs and lettuces and served warm with a dish of nuoc cham.
You'll be full at this point (especially if you've also ordered one of the bun options, which come with an impressive array of meat and seafood options), but there is a full page of drinks, too. Various teas with and without boba, and all manner of milkshakes, including durian, if you want to, as one diner put it, "get aggressive."
Just be sure to order a full complement of rolls first.
2643 N. San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead; (626) 280-1899.