While Utah is still predominantly white, Salt Lake City is home to a thriving Vietnamese population. Lucky for me, this means a steaming, restorative bowl of phó is no more than a ten minute drive away once my car leaves the Salt Lake City airport.
La-Cai Noodle House is a favorite among locals attracting an eclectic mix of salesmen from the adjacent Audi dealership, multi-generational Vietnamese families, and the occasional table of ladies lunching. The all-English menu is definitely fit for the non-savvy guest. But phó is phó and that bowl of rich beef broth seasoned with anise and filled with cuts of beef and rice noodles is comfort food no matter what city it hails from.
La-Cai’s phó has a distinct black pepper taste more pronounced than I’m used to. The brisket is rich and tender, the beef balls light and spongy but meaty, and the rare sirloin is sliced a tender paper-thin.
The menu features other Vietnamese staples like bun vermicelli noodles and spring rolls along with some random American-Chinese specialties like Beef with Broccoli. But I don’t let these other items distract me, some spring rolls and a few slurps of delicious noodle soup are all I need to shake off airplane fatigue and get on with my trip.
La-Cai Noodle House, 961 S. State St. Salt Lake City, UT 84111 801.322.3590