Pho Mai #1 Noodle House caters to late night clientele with friendly atmosphere


Joaquin De La Torre

Pho Mai serves both Vietnamese and Filipino cuisine.

Jodi Wong, Staff Reporter

At 1 a.m., when most eateries are wiping down their last counters and locking their doors, the signs of Pho Mai #1 are still sporting neon outlines that fade to a warm ambiance inside the building, illuminating the diners hunched over tables or talking with friends. 

Crystal Nguyen, 21, a business and child development major at West Valley College, is one such diner.

“The first time I went to Pho Mai was when I started working at Gen Korean BBQ house,” she said. “Then it was just a group thing that we always did like every Thursday night because it’s the only place that stays open till three or four in the morning. My job closes at midnight, so it’s perfect.”


Pho Mai’s business hours appeal to those who are hungry late. (Joaquin De La Torre)

Pho Mai’s late closing time attracts more people to eat at the restaurant during its after midnight hours than at typical mealtimes. 

“For folks who are hungry late at night, or maybe they can’t cook something themselves, they would go to this restaurant to eat,” said Brandon Flores, 25, a business major.

Despite its late hours, Pho Mai serves a wide array of dishes, with both Filipino and Korean influences on its heavily Vietnamese cuisine, including kimchi fried rice and tocilog.

“Everything I’ve had there has been really good,” said Flores. “They sell Korean fried chicken, they have fried rice, they have a lot of things other than just pho, so there’s a little bit for everybody.”

At around $9 for a bowl of pho or $10 for a rice plate dish, Ngyuen said Pho Mai “is literally what I have in my pocket–not too expensive, and still affordable.” 

The restaurant’s service hovers at a balance between efficient and welcoming. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever waited more than 10 minutes for my food,” said Flores. “It’s kind of similar to fast food in terms of quickness, but it definitely tastes homemade.”


Outdoor dining is an option, as well as limited in door seating. (Joaquin De La Torre)

At the same time, Flores said, “They’re very personable, so if you’re a returning customer, they’ll greet you by name. If you order the same thing, they’ll ask if you want your regular. They definitely care about the people that go into their restaurant.” 

Nguyen expressed similar thoughts. 

“The people that work there, they remember you and they acknowledge you and say hey ‘welcome back,’” she said. “It’s like a little family there, is how I see it.”

Although Pho Mai is situated near a highway, Anthony Ngo, 21, a West Valley College biology major, said “for the area it’s in, it’s kind of peaceful.”

“The customer service is nice, perhaps not the best just because it’s late, but it’s the best that service can be during that time,” he added. 

Since the pandemic, the restaurant has adjusted to the necessary safety precautions and offers take-out as well as outdoor dining in their large parking lot with tables situated over six-feet apart. It continues to stay open until 3 a.m. and provides an expansive array of dishes and warm approachability to both regular and late night clientele.