It's not often that you find a menu that satisfies meat lovers and vegetarians, but Luga's PhoPho offers a selection of Vietnamese food fit for herbivores, with tofu or seitan substitutions for almost all its hearty meat dishes.
"All of our ingredients are fresh and the dishes are prepared to order," says manager and head chef, Jun Trinh, a Canadian who relocated to Beijing almost two years ago. Early to rise, he personally oversees the minimum eight hours of simmering required for each bowl of his signature noodle soup broth that's served daily.
"MSG is not a part of my culinary vocabulary," he frowns.
Trinh's years of experience as a chef in both Toronto and Beijing, as well as his Vietnamese heritage, have inspired his menu and staff training ethos.
"Most of the recipes are handed down from my grandmother," he says, looking around the cozy caf where the brightly painted walls are decorated with photographs from his travels in Vietnam.
Portions are fit for small groups (three to four people) and diners are invited to create their own bowls of pho (31-45 yuan, medium size). Beyond the standard ingredients of rice noodles soaked in a delicate broth, onions, spring onions, coriander served with side garnishes of bean sprouts, lime wedges, basil and mint, individual options for meat, seafood, seitan, or tofu, as well as tripe, tendon, or meatball additions are available.
Free wireless Internet access and a daily Happy Hour from 9 pm to 2 am are also offered. The two-page (English/Chinese) drinks menu, late-night 30-40 percent discount specials include Vietnamese top brand, Trung Nguyen, condensed milk ice coffees (25 yuan), Thai ice teas made to perfection (20 yuan), and seasonable fresh fruit shakes (30 yuan).
Opposite Tongli Studio, Sanlitun Houjie. 6413-2786