New Year's resolutions can be easy to make and hard to keep, especially the ones about reining in our inner gourmet. Alain and I both so love to eat, and cook, and experience other cuisines and their foods. So, when we discovered Phans55 late last year, we were doubly enchanted, knowing we could tuck into a good hot meal there anytime, guilt free.
The place itself is a gem, a space that features soaring ceilings with beautiful modern chandeliers, compact and dripping light down into the seating areas, and still manages to remain cozy and warm. Simply delineated, the space is beautiful, spare and artistic, and always comfortable, for a whole crowd, or just two...
Alain saw an ad for the restaurant in a local review magazine, and we decided to drive the 10 minutes up the hill to try it out. In early fall, the weather was still balmy, and we sat outside on their charming little patio, where we were shaded by umbrellas that punctuated the space with their vibrant color. On our first visit we tried some spring rolls, another appetizer and one of their specialties, sea bass cooked in a clay pot. I will never forget it. The service was extraordinary, and has never dipped below that benchmark. Warm, never intrusive, and always welcoming.
The bar is extraordinary, a beautiful space carved out of the back of the restaurant, and tended by a well-informed staff. We love their Vietnamese beer with the hot dishes, but they have a lovely offering of wines as well.
The kitchen is amazing, and the proprietor, Clervil Heraux, took us on a tour the first night we were there, explaining how the huge woks are fired and then cooled by a sheet of water running down the stainless steel back splash. We got a first hand view of the massive four square burners that are trundled in and out of the kitchen where they make all their own stocks and broths for the restaurant.
Here's a view of part of the dining area, where you will find families joined over bowls of warm, translucent noodles, spooning the fresh garnishes of mint, cilantro and spiced condiments into their bowls. The food is fresh, healthy, and would be an easy virtue for any one seeking to be resolute in the new year. Our hot tip for local dining. Tell Clervil we sent you!
Vietnamese Bistro and Bar
1981 Sunnycrest Dr.
Fullerton, CA 92835
(across from St. Jude Hospital)