Le Soleil, 1515 E. 14th Street, San Leandro (510) 614-0122
We were so glad when this restaurant opened in our land of the chain restaurants… Le Soleil serves beautiful fresh pho (Vietnamese noodle soup). Each order of noodles comes with a plate piled with fresh bean sprouts, thinly sliced jalapeno, onion, stalks of basil leaves and lime halves.
We are also given a small dish into which you squeeze any combo of hoisin and chili sauce that are provided on the tables. I like to dip bits of the meat and veggies into this dish, fill the spoon with some soup and noodles and then place the meat into the spoon and slurp noisily. That serves to cool off the soup and also you can construct the perfect bite.
The chicken soup is golden and sings songs of clucking chickens scratching around for seed. No kidding, this is the good stuff, full of flavor and aroma with hints of ginger, cilantro and bits of fried shallot, but with a clean integrity and bright flavors. Mr. K likes to get this with egg noodles, which hold their texture better than the traditional rice noodles.
I always get the pho dac biet, which is a combination of sliced beef, beef balls, tendon and tripe, and I like the rice noodles. The beef soup is heady stuff, I lean over the bowl and inhale whiffs of cinnamon, anise, and the fragrance of freshly torn basil leaf. The tendon is al dente, firm to the tooth, but viscous and gooey when you bite down on it – heavenly. I like the way the rice noodles start out firm and almost chewy and as you progress, they have become soft and yielding.
We have ordered the spring rolls (the not fried ones). They are filled with shrimp, crisp vegetables and mint, then wrapped with rice paper and served with a wonderful peanut sauce. Too many places serve a bad version of this that is grayish with a bad pasty consistency. Le Soleil’s has a rich texture and complex flavors that complement the mild rolls.
So far, we like the noodles so much we haven’t ordered any entrees from the menu. One of these days….
p.s. this is a repost with pics.