The Food Column: Near and Pho

And now pho something completely different:

In the past, many of my gastronomic musings have been about God’s gift to the world: tacos. Now, I feel it’s time to talk about pho. Normally, I’m not one to jump on the newest, hottest food trend, so I’m a little late jumping on the pho bandwagon, mainly because, I thought, “How different is it, really, from glass noodle soup?” My first experience with pho was in Reno, Nev., while visiting family. They have a favorite place, and it’s good— there’s a large menu with rice porridge, bowls, stir-fry, noodle dishes and whatnot. But I didn’t spend my days dreaming of it and wishing for more. Until, that is, one day, when my dear heart (my husband Jeff) and I were at our little High Desert get-away. As there are only a half-handful of eating establishments in the area we can both eat at comfortably, we tend to cook, sit outside enjoying the view and our sparkling conversation. And with most places serving only to-go and money being tight, we haven’t been eating out much recently.

But I was sick (non-COVID-19 related sickness, thanks for asking) as a frickin’ dog and it was only in the 80s (so I’m cold), I wasn’t cooking, setting a table, cleaning up or doing dishes. Heck no— I want soup. What I really wanted is gluten free wonton soup, but good luck with that, even in LA. So my thoughtful husband takes it upon himself to search online for literally “soup near us.” 

“Well,” says he, “There’s pho at the Jelly Donut in Twentynine Palms. They’ve got great reviews; let’s try that.” 

OK, Jeff, now I want a jelly donut, thanks. 

Jelly Donut is, as stated, a donut shop, with big, delicious-looking donuts (eating them with our eyes is as close as we’ll get to enjoying them) that also serves pho. It’s in an old garage/gas station converted into the combo donut/pho restaurant. I order chicken & beef; Jeff gets the vegan with tofu and we grab a table outside. First to arrive are the sides: bean sprouts, jalapeños, basil and limes. Then, two huge steaming bowls full of noodles, veggies, beef and chicken. I try Jeff’s first (what’s his is mine). Holy-mole! If they lied about the broth being vegan, I don’t blame them (just don’t tell Jeff)— it’s so rich and fully flavorful, even meaty, not a bland watery veggie soup! Packed full of carrots, cabbage, bok choi and more. Amazing! The chicken and beef was full of thinly sliced, tender, juicy beef and chicken breast meat, green scallions, and onions (I picked them out). Not salty, just very clean and light, with a spice forwardness of star anise and cloves and rice noodles galore. It’s now become my new go-to soup: warm, comfy and filling, best chicken/beef noodle soup I’ve have in years! 


Jelly Donut is open Monday-Sunday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m., 73570 29 Palms Hwy., Twentynine Palms, CA 92277.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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