In the heat of summer, waiting on Sawtelle with sweat dripping down your back for a bowl of ramen is less than appealing. On days like that, Nong La is a refreshing ramen alternative. This Vietnamese restaurant’s banh mi sandwiches, rice dishes, and noodle salads are perfect for when the heat’s at its worst.
We were lucky enough to nab a seat inside, though some brave souls chose to sit out on the patio. Refreshing cold beverages were in order. They don’t have any beers on tap, but they did have Einstok beer from Iceland, brewed with roasted coffee, which was like drinking a Guinness. The Tipsy Buddha caught my eye, a craft cider supposedly made for yogis and zen masters. With matcha green tea and yuzu, it was easy to convince myself it was actually a healthy drink (and yes, the “tipsy” in the name is apt).
Inside, the air-conditioning was blasting so you could even order pho, which we did.
The Chay pho had tofu, oyster mushrooms, carrots and daikon. The vegetarian broth was a little bland but easily benefited with the addition of some chili peppers. It was a nice light dish, not the stomach bomb that tonkotsu ramen is.
If you’re hungry, one of the buns (noodle salads) is the way to go. Served in a large bowl, the cold rice noodles come with lettuce, herbs, cucumbers, bean sprouts, pickled carrots/daikon and peanuts.
The Ga Nuong Cha Gio came with grilled lemongrass chicken (free range, YAY) and an egg roll, because I could not pass up on getting one of those deep-fried delights.
There were sauces on the table so that you could customize your dish to give it a bit more oomph. The serving was so generous that I could have taken half of it home and made another meal of it. I didn’t and was so stuffed that I had to forego my dessert plans.
The food at Nong La tastes fresh and healthy (except for that egg roll) – ideal during a heat wave in Los Angeles. When the weather turns cooler, Nong La’s pho makes a great alternative to the pork-fat intensive ramen of Sawtelle.
Location – 2055 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles 90025
Website – https://www.nonglacafe.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes