Right now, Xoai is having a soft opening – meaning there is a limited menu and cash only (that was a surprise for us – we had to run down to the ATM a couple of blocks away for cash). They don’t serve alcohol yet, but according to Eating LA may apply for a license some day.
Echo Park Now didn’t attend the restaurant’s “community night” on Monday where bloggers and press were treated to sample the soft opening menu, so we ventured out last night and ordered just a couple of dishes on our own. I was feeling under the weather, and with the temperature outside unusually cool lately, I had to warm up with some pho. I ordered the vegetarian Pho Chay with tofu, my dinner date the Pho Tai with rare steak.
The broth is delicious – heavy on the anise flavors and plentiful. At first I didn’t think the broth had enough heat (I like mine spicy and steaming hot), but that was nothing a little sriracha didn’t fix. As mentioned, the vegetarian dish had plenty of broth and plenty of noodles, and while there were only about five chunks of tofu there were a LOT of mushrooms (mini portabello I believe). I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms (flavor good, chewing not so much), so I avoided those as much as I could. Other than that, it was tasty and while I put good dent in the bowl I couldn’t finish the whole thing in one sitting.
Oh yes, and my dinner partner really liked the Pho Tai.
I don’t eat red meat, but there seemed to be a pretty good balance between poultry, red meat, and vegetarian options. Though the menu doesn’t say, I did ask our server and the spring rolls do come vegetarian as well (on the menu they have pork and shrimp).
Price-wise, the Xoia menu items are affordable and not too drastically different from Pho Cafe, Indochine and the other Silver Lake-Atwater area Vietnamese restaurants. The ambiance is lovely and very unique compared to other restaurants in Echo Park; the lighting is very, very bright (another difference from most other Echo Park restaurants which, such as Masa, The Park, and AYC, are almost all dimly lit), so I probably wouldn’t want to go if I was hung over! The benefit of Xoia is it’s walking distance from my house, and will be a really great summer dining spot with the enclosed patio (it’s sometimes nice to dine outside but not on the Sunset Blvd. sidewalk).
Extended hours (including lunch) and more menu items to come soon.
Here’s the menu as it stands at press time (click to view full image):