What is it about humans and completely losing our minds over hidden restaurants and bars? Push us through a refrigerator or a coat closet or the back kitchen of a grilled cheese shop and instantly everything tastes better, feels better, and is far more important on social media. But then there are places who just happen to be hidden from view. They’re not trying to be cool or get on your Instagram, it’s simply where they’re located. Welcome to ASAP Phorage.
In the heart of the sleepy beach enclave of Playa Del Rey, there’s a no-name convenience store that’s essentially the area’s general store. Need some toilet paper? Red wine? Strips of beef jerky to put under your pillow for later? This is where you go. And yet, it’s also home to something slightly less expected - one of best pho spots in the city.
photo credit: Holly Liss
ASAP Phorage is actually the second location of the popular West LA spot Phorage. And as the name suggests, this tiny counter is meant to be of the more on-the-go variety. And while you could certainly be in and out in under 10 minutes, we’d recommend hanging for a bit if you can. There are about six tiny tables surrounding the counter and a few out front on the sidewalk that, if for nothing else, provide excellent people watching. On our last visit, there was a guy in line juggling a soccer ball, a couple middle school girls in the corner talking sh*t about Rachel, and two old men having an in-depth conversation about VoiceOver. It’s feels like Playa’s living room and we never want to leave.
But of course, none of this matters if the food isn’t good. Luckily, it’s excellent. The Washugyu beef pho is one of our favorites in LA and the papaya salad isn’t far behind. While ASAP’s menu doesn’t have the vermicelli noodles like the other location, it makes up for it in the sandwich department. The beef curry banh mi is fantastic and unlike anything else in town. Oh, and there’s breakfast starting at 6:30am with a banh mi burrito you’ll want to get involved in.
ASAP Phorage is functional, well-run, and downright delicious. Drop in with the crew for some banh mis before the beach, or pick up pho to-go after a long day of work. ASAP might be hidden away in a convenience store, but that’s hardly why we’re losing our minds.
Beef Washugyu Pho
We could eat a bowl of this every week for the rest of our lives. The beef is actually rare when the bowl hits the table and cooks itself in the heat of the broth as you eat. It’s magic and also unbelievably delicious.
Beef Curry Banh Mi
Only served at the Playa location, this sandwich is truly special and completely different than any other banh mi you’ve had. It has the just right amount of spice to it and when dipped into the pho, it’s heaven.
Green Papaya Salad
This doesn’t have the heat level as some of the other versions around town do, but it’s still fresh, delicious, and an absolute must-order.
Jidori Chicken Broken Rice Plate
If there’s one dish at ASAP we’d pass on, this would be it. It’s not that the plate is bad, it’s just a little dull and there are frankly too many other great things on the menu.
Banh Mi Breakfast Burrito
Holy sex. How it took this long for this to be a thing is beyond us. But it’s here now and it’s as good as advertised. Only served Wed-Sun 6:30am-11am, your weekend hangover just got a lot easier.