Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thursdays with J, M & J - Miso Chilean Seabass Recipe & Seared Scallops

When I had first met J, she was barely starting her new hobby, wine-collecting. I usually drink anything in front of me, and for a while, I was drinking crap wine like $2 Buck Chuck because I didn't know any better. I even cooked with it. But it wasn't till I met her friend MM that I started to appreciate wine more as an art/craft than a source for alcoholic debauchery.

J: "You've gotta meet my friend MM. He's teaching me about wine."
Me: "Sure. I'll drink anything! Save me from the wrath of the $2 Buck Chuck."

In no time, J accumulated a collection of wine in her beautiful Danby Wine Cooler. I eventually met MM and learned a wealth about wine. The most interesting thing to me was that a good wine didn't have to reach the 3-digit bracket. He showed me delectables wines as low as $6 (3-bottles of $2 Buck Chuck).

Me: "Hey do you know how to pair wine with food?"
MM: "Sure, I can try."
Me: "Awesome. Hey, random question. If I hold on to a bottle of $2 Buck Chuck for 10 years, will the value of it increase? Say, to $20?"
MM: *weird look*

As an aspiring caterer, it is essential to possess the lore of wine. If you're serving up haute cuisine, the last thing a client wants to see is the same bottle of wine 3-4 times. You'd be fired instantly and resort to working in the kitchens of Applebee's or Olive Garden - stuck in front of the fry-o-lator for the rest of your life making sampler plates of mozzy sticks, wings and jalapeno poppers. I'd rather die.

We decided to start doing dinners with J, MM and MM's gf, JK. I had spoken to MM earlier about pairing a 3-course dinner. I could tell he was stoked because he immediately took for the wine store the same day we talked. He purchased 3 bottles of wine/champagne for my 3-course dinner, but ended up serving 2-courses. Seafood City, a Filipino market, didn't have clams to sell. What kind of seafood market refuses to sell clams??? Here's what we had:

Goat Cheese, St. Andre Brie/Camembert & Duck Liver Pate
We started off with a selection J bought from The Cheesestore of Silverlake with some mini toastettes. We had discovered these after one of many wine tastings at Silverlake Wine. We just had whatever wine I had lying around with this. Great selection by J.

Seared Scallops with Rosé Beurre Blanc
For the appetizer, I seared some large scallops with salt & pepper in some olive oil and butter till they were light brown on both sides. About 3-4 minutes per side and medium-high heat. I reduced some Rosé with shallots and vinegar and added cream, butter and sugar to the beurre blanc. A beurre blanc means 'white butter' and is traditionally made with butter, shallots, vinegar and white wine. The wine can be substituted with any sweet wine and the vinegar can be substituted with lemon. The scallops tasted buttery and were cooked perfectly. The butteriness was balanced off by the sharp and sweet taste of the beurre blanc. I served some microgreens on top to give a slightly bitter crunch. MM served a 2004 Carl Schmitt-Wagner Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett with this. Wonderful pairing.

Miso Chilean Seabass with Truffle Oil, Yuzu-Flavored Edamame and King Mushrooms
I steeped the Chilean seabass fillets for 3 days in a mixture of mirin, miso paste and sugar. I boiled the three components together and added them into a ziplock with the fish once it had cooled completely. Before broiling the Seabass, I sauteed some edamame beans and king mushrooms and seasoned it with soy sauce, rice wine and yuzu juice. I set the fish on top of the edamame and king mushrooms and lightly drizzled some French Truffle oil my catering boss had given me. Excellent stuff. The fish tasted great w/ the Truffle oil, but I had added way too many beans to the dish. According to the guests, it took some "work" to eat the beans. MM served a 2004 Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese with this.

Overall, it was a great night, ending with more wine-drinking and a few episodes of Reno 911. Thanks again to MM & JK for great wine and company. Stay tuned for the next "Thursdays with J, M & J" dinner. Thanks for reading. Read more!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wonton Time - Wontons On Steroids - Alhambra, SGV

America is a nation that exercises overconsumption and completely ignores the notion that moderation is the key to anything. It seems that things are getting faster, stronger, sleeker and bigger. And we see that this ideal applies to cars, homes, fashion and of course, food. In Fast Food Nation, the author notes that to achieve this over-moderation, corners are cut and ultimately, damage our bodies. Over the years, portion sizes have increased as well. In the South, soda is sold in 3-liter bottles, not the standard 2-liter. In fast food restaurants, food is becoming tastier because nearly everything is deep fried, earning you more points on the Cholesterol chart. Places like Claimjumper's make me sick. I'm full before I've even started eating the meal. I fortunately can do without fast food and have avoided places that praise quantity over quality. But sometimes, larger portions are a good thing.

The good people over at Wonton Time in Alhambra have taken a part in America's campaign for overconsumption. But still in a way that's healthier than any fast food you'll ever eat. They come by way of Hong Kong and serve up some BIG wontons. These are the Barry Bonds and Mark Maguire's of wontons - fully roided up. I have longed for good wontons since my last trip to Hong Kong last year. To this day, I have NOT found a place worthy of being considered a Hong Kong-style wonton noodle shop. In Hong Kong, I could walk into any restaurant and order some of the best wontons ever. Wonton Time would have to do for now until my next trip to Hong Kong this Christmas. Yes, that's two trips to Asia in one year for me. No, I am not a FOB. I hope.

Wonton Time is packed tightly in a shopping center on the corner of Valley/Garfield (across from The Hat). Street parking is hard to find, so you'll have to go to the back lot. The place is usually semi-filled with customers and the employees there really don't care about yelling across the restaurant. Wonton Time is run entirely by women. You have one person working on the wontons, one person cooking the noodles and two servers asking you "wut yieu won?!" The menu is simple. There are three kinds of 'meat' you can order: Wontons, Fishballs or Sliced Beef. There are two types of noodles you can order: Wonton Egg Noodles or thin-sliced Rice Noodles. Both of which can be served with or without soup. In Cantonese, we say "Lo Mein" - which means soupless noodles hand-mixed with sauce (usually oyster sauce). "Tong Mein" means soup noodles. For your first time, go for the Wonton Soup Noodles. The beef is super bland and I don't recommend it. Here's what I had:

I told you they were big. Each one of these wontons (4 per order) packs 3 shrimps with a little pork. The texture of the skin is very light and 'ghostly'. I bit into it and tasted succulent shrimp and pork. Try this w/ a dip of vinegar and hot sauce. Good. $4

Wonton Noodle Soup
For $4, you get 4 wontons and a medium portion of noodles. The noodles were cooked perfectly with the 'al dente' bite. The soup wasn't bad. I could taste the chicken, pork, shrimp (shells) and fish in the broth. I could've eaten another bowl but didn't want to overdo it. $4

Fishball Noodle Soup
This is the same kind of fishball you'd see at a dim sum restaurant. It is made with pureed white fish, green onions, chinese sausage and orange peel. Don't worry, the orange peel is used to mask out any fishiness. These were very juicy and tasty. At Wonton Time, you also have the option of picking 2-3 items for a mixed bowl. So definitely try the wontons and fishballs. $4

Vegetables with Oyster Sauce/Sesame Oil
Traditionally, the people of Hong Kong love to eat their soup noodles or dim sum with a plate of boiled vegetables (yau choy) topped with oyster sauce and sesame oil. Nothing special. $2

For first timers, I recommend adding the red vinegar and homemade hot sauce into your noodles. It really brings out the flavor of the dish. Until my trip to Hong Kong, this place will do. It's not bad. It's definitely one of the better places for wonton noodle soup and the fact that they add 'steroids' to their wontons should be interesting enough.

Here's Jonathan Gold's review on Wonton Time.

Wonton Time
19 E. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 293-3366 Read more!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Hungry Zombies of Thai Town - Sanamluang, Thai Town

Last night, I went to the Troubadour in West Hollywood to see the French Kicks show. After a few beers, I was drunk and hungry. I met up with J around midnight to forage for some double dinner. We didn't feel like eating tacos and decided to continue our Thai Town spree. Yes, again I'm after the perfect bowl of Thai Boat Noodles, while J, is after a delectable bowl of BBQ Duck Noodles. This brings us to Sanamluang and it's bright neon-pink and yellow sign. It had the feel of a diner located in the middle of the "Nowhere Desert". Only their lights were working properly. It'd be cool if they strobed dysfunctionally, then it would've truly been an eerie dining experience.

Outside on the tarp, Sanamluang proclaims that they have "The Best Noodles In Town". Maybe it's a direct quote from LA Weekly food writer, Jonathan Gold. Whatever the case, I was even more interested in eating at this joint. I laugh everytime I drive by a divey hamburger joint that claims they have "World Famous Burgers". This would hold true if their world consisted of a few blocks on a busy street.

We walked in and I immediately felt a weird buzz. Not because I was drunk either. The fluorescent lights projected a yellowish hue in the restaurant. The patrons stared at us like zombies - eyes fixated on us, hands slowly bringing the soup spoons to their mouths without spilling. The employees walked around slowly - tired from a long day of hustling and bustling. There were only about 5 occupied tables and everyone was spaced out. Definitely odd. Not as odd as a hospital cafeteria though.

The waitress handed us sticky menus. But again, we knew what we wanted. Here's what we had:

Thai Boat Noodle Soup
This massive bowl of noodles arrived within 7 minutes. A hot, steaming bowl of noodles, beef parts, green onions/cilantros and brothy goodness ladeled into a tacky-looking bowl. The bowl looked like it was the same ones used back in the late 80s/early 90s - possibly when they first opened. A pattern that was similar to one of Parker Lewis's many rayon dress shirts. J noticed that "Krua Thai" was written on the 80s artifact. Krua Thai is a Thai restaurant in North Hollywood, and purportedly serves up some of the best Pad Thai in LA. I don't care for Pad Thai so I won't bother challenging them. The owner of Sanamluang obviously runs Krua Thai as well. Back to the soup. Wow, this really smelled good. Things are tastier when you're drunk, but I had J try it out too. The soup was somewhat sour - more than usual. The noodles were cooked beautifully yet the portions of beef were sparse. I like a place that serves an equal balance of components - right amount of soup, noodles, garnishes and meat. This bowl was purely noodles and soup. For sure this bowl of TBN beats Red Corner Asia's. As of now, here are my rankings for Thai Boat Noodles:

#1 - Sapp Coffee Shop
#2 - Yai Thai Restaurant
#3 - Sanamluang
#4 - Red Corner Asia

BBQ Duck Noodles
J forgot to specify that she wanted yellow egg noodles. We were quite surprised that it came with thick white rice noodles - never seen it before. There was also NO SIGN OF SAUCE. Most places I've eaten at come with just a little bit of duck flavored broth - not here. The waitress was quite surprised with our request for a small bowl of broth. We saw her speaking to the chef and the chef gave us a look. Not a good sign. A chef on a bad day could add his own personal garnish if he wanted to. I could see that J wasn't too thrilled with the noodles so we switched. Either way, I was fine. I was buzzing and hungry haha. This dish came with a nice portion of fatty/savory pieces of duck. It was good.

I think this will be my new late night choice. This or Palm's - both will be good. Thanks for reading.

Sanamluang Cafe
5176 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 660-8006 Read more!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"C" Means "Clean Enough" - Sapp Coffee Shop, Thai Town

Again I'm back on Hollywood Blvd. whoring for the perfect bowl of Thai Boat Noodles in Thai Town. My last 2 experiences at Yai and Red Corner Asia were satisfactory, with Yai reigning supreme over RCA. RCA really didn't do it for me.

J and I were headed to a wine tasting at Silverlake Wine and craved a bowl of noodles before we got liquored up. I was craving Thai Boat while she was in pursuit of a good bowl of roasted/bbq duck noodles. After a year of corresponding with Yoony of Immaeatchu through the food blog, we felt it was time to finally meet the young lady behind the delicious cooking. She and Santos of Meet Me At the Corner of Third & Fairfax got us hyped on this current Thai food spree.

A friend of mine recommended Sapp Coffee Shop because she knows how much i love Thai Boat Noodles. For those that haven't had this, it's almost like pho with the beef parts, but the soup is brown and much thicker. Why is it thicker? It's because authentic TBN's are made with beef and pork blood. Don't close this window just yet - it's tastier than you think. The result of incorporating blood is a nice gravy-like soup that is packed with flavor.

Sapp Coffee Shop is a favorite of young people because it's known as a diner, with rice and noodle dishes and a list of delectable Thai drinks. Although Sapp Coffee Shop is a Thai restaurant, the word 'sapp' is Laotian for 'tasty, delicious'. And rightfully so.

J, Yoony and I met at 7 pm and piled into this hole-in-wall restaurant marked with a "C". But don't mind the "C", it really means 'clean enough'. If you're a prude, ambiance-seeking eater, you probably shouldn't be frequenting Asian restaurants PERIOD. After all, Asian restaurants are all about the food. After about 10 minutes of chatting, we picked up the menu to order food. The girls both got the dry roasted duck noodles which they fell in love with at Yai. I, of course, got the TBN's. Here's what we thought.

BBQ Duck Noodles (Dry)
J and Yoony overall liked this dish at Yai more because there was duck sauce on the bottom of the bowl. The duck is served warm here, while Yai's is cold-cut style. The noodles were cooked too long - giving it a mushy texture. If you look closely at the photo, you can see the sugar UNMIXED into the dish. If there was any sauce at all, it would've dissolved the sugar. Presentation wise - Sapp Coffee Shop loses points. No one wants to see unmixed ingredients in the dish. But after they mixed up the contents of the dish, they both quietly enjoyed the noodles. $4.75

Thai Boat Noodles (kũay tĩaw reua néua thúk yàang)
As soon as I saw the server with my bowl of TBN's, I rubbed my hands together. I always do that. She set the bowl down and my eyes lit up. My nostrils enlarged. Man, this smelled so good. I didn't even have to dip my spoon into the broth to know how thick and savory it was. I could see small chunks of beef and boiled blood pieces inside the broth - a sign that this was true beef broth. I could smell soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, cilantro and green onions. Very nice. I didn't get the works which includes liver and tripe - instead I stuck with beef slices, beef balls, beef tendon and fried pork skins (chicharrones). $4.75

Thai Boat Noodles (kũay tĩaw reua néua thúk yàang)
I lifted up the noodles from the broth and noticed that the noodles stuck together. Another sign that the broth was thick - yum. If you look closely a the noodles, you can see the beef and boiled blood bits. I was going to get the beef taste in every bite. I let J and Yoony try some and they both liked it. J agreed that it was better than Yai and RCA's. I devoured this bowl in about 10 minutes and actually thought about getting another bowl. If you're into full flavored noodles, I highly recommend the TBN's here at Sapp. There are afew TBN options and Sapp doesn't mind you customizing your own bowl of beef with different beef parts. You can also choose pork instead of beef. If you want roasted/bbq duck noodles, go over to Yai, which is down the street. $5.50

Nevermind the 'C' rating here, I give Sapp Coffee Shop an 'A'. Hurry on over here, they close at 8:30 every night and rest on Wednesdays. Here is another review by a Sapp fan from the LTH Forum.

Sapp Coffee Shop
5183 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 665-1035 Read more!

Monday, August 07, 2006

My New Toy: The Wok - Beef Chow Fun & Beef Chow Mein (Crispy) Recipe

In a conversation that extended over 15+ emails, Kirk of Mmm-Yoso and Elmo of Elmomonster convinced me that the Big Kahuna Burner was a good investment for wok cooking and that I wouldn't be going to jail for involuntary arson. (They both own it too). For only $49.99 off Amazon, this burner reaches BTU's as high as 55,000. Just how high is that? The stove burner you use daily averages 5,000 to 8,000 BTU's. For so long I wondered why I couldn't achieve that same restaurant-quality taste with Chinese food. Why was the food cooked on the outside so beautifully, yet so gummy-tender on the indside? Why was there such a different, indescribable taste to the food that used the same ingredients I had used at home? And why did food come out in less than 5 minutes? It's called 'wok hay', the 'heat/energy of the wok'. The wok, when burning hot, sears/singes the meat nicely on the outside and adds a taste unachievable on a 10" Emeril pot and home stove. The domed shape of the wok distributes heat faster than the flat surface of a pan. (I got my 16" wok at a restaurant supply store in San Gabriel for only $9. It's decent.) Combining rocket-boosting heat and domed cookware, you get Asian-style cooking.

In Chinese, 'chow fun' means fried rice noodles and 'chow mein' means fried egg noodles. Fresh 'fun' noodles are shown on the left. Their made with rice, starch and water and come oiled up to keep from drying in room temperature and are already pre-sliced. 'Fun' noodles require the most labor because it is necessary to separate each strand of noodle for equal cooking. On the right is steamed 'chow mein'. Do not confuse these with wonton egg noodles, which come heavily doused in flour. If you were to use wonton egg noodles for the 'Beef Chow Mein' dish, they wouldn't turn out out too well because of the high flour content. Also, if you add liquids to the dish, the noodles will become thick and gooey. Not good. Steaming egg noodles removes the flour and making it easier for pan frying. 'Fun' is $1.79 a pack and 'mein' is $1.59 a pack at most Asian markets.

The key to cooking Asian stir fry and noodle dishes is having everything prepped out. I've been over to my Uncle's restaurant to watch him cook and their walk-in fridge is stocked with prepped out food. He punches out orders in less than 3 minutes because everything is ready to go. I combined the ingredients for both dishes.

Marinating the beef:
- Flank steak
- Rice Wine/Sherry (Shao Xing)
- Oil
- Salt
- White Pepper (Chinese rarely use black pepper)
- Chicken Bouillon Powder
- Corn starch

Mix those up well and let it steep for at least 30 minutes.

For Beef Chow Fun, you need:
- Green onions (green part 2.5"-3")
- Bean sprouts (handful)

For Beef Chow Mein, you need:
- Greens like Yau Choy or Gai-Lan (Chinese Broccoli)
- Green onion stalks (thick slices)
- Straw Mushrooms (canned)
- Carrots (cut into rhombus-shape)
- Ginger (cut into rhombus-shape)
- Garlic

The sauce aisle is probably the most overwhelming section of the Asian market. Who knew that they could fill up one long aisle with soy sauce, oyster sauces and oil. It'll take a while finding these if you don't already have them. You'll need soy sauce, dark soy sauce (aka mushroom soy sauce), oyster sauce and sesame oil. Disregard the jar on the left.

After prepping everything, I spent a good 10 minutes bringing out all the equipment/sauces I needed to the area in front of my apartment. Never wok cook inside a kitchen unless you have an overhead, proper stove and fire extinguisher. Those flames could catch oil and wreak havoc. Plus the smell of smoke can be overwhelming. I stood there for a few minutes getting myself ready for this mentally. There isn't a lot of time to think and you must act fast. I opened the gas valve on the propane tank and could see the gas slowly fill out throught the tube. I then opened the control valve for the burner and I immediately heard hissing. I used a stick lighter and ignited the burner. Whooom! Ok, here we go. Here's what went down.

Beef Chow Fun
Add a little oil and swirl it around the wok. It should take no longer than 30-45 seconds for the oil to smoke. Toss the beef in and stir it around. Once it's cooked through about 60%, take it out. Toss the noodles in and stir. In about 2-3 minutes, they'll be cooked. Simply add the beef back in along with bean sprouts, green onions and a few pieces of ginger. Add dark soy sauce to achieve that recognizable 'beef chow fun' color. *Note, dark soy sauce really has no taste and it's only used for coloring. Soy sauce is used for taste along with salt and white pepper. Add some soy sauce and sugar to taste. You're done when the green onions and bean sprouts are wilted. This dish came out delicious except for the fact that I used too much sugar. It kinda tasted like Thai "pad see eew". The beef was cooked about 85% with a few pieces showing some rareness, which I don't mind. Next round, I'm adding less sugar and more ginger.

Beef Chow Mein
First, add a cup of oil into the wok for shallow frying the egg noodles. Fry each side for about 2 minutes and watch that you don't burn it. It should be a light golden brown. Take it out once you're done. Throw the beef in and stir - cook 50% through and dump about 2 cups of water to make the gravy. Add dark soy sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper and sugar to taste. Once you get the right taste, throw the beef back in and add corn starch mixture (water/corn starch) to thicken the gravy. Next toss in the carrots, straw mushrooms and yau choy. Cook for about another 2 mins. Add about 2-3 drops of sesame oil and pour the gravy over your perfectly fried noodles. I did none of this. I really messed up on this dish because I didn't add enough water to make the gravy. The noodles were fried decently, yet I ran into some uncooked parts. The soy sauce I added had caramelized, giving it a gooey/burnt taste. No good. For the next round, I am mixing all of the sauces together into one pot.

I didn't realize how much practice is needed for wok cooking. My arms are sore from lifting the wok. Prepping this dish is the most crucial element because you really don't have much time to think/act. Overall, I'm very happy with the purchase of the Big Kahuna Burner and unhappy with the way the 'Beef Chow Mein' turned out. Stay tuned for Round 2. Thanks for reading. Read more!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Little Trip to Little Saigon for the Little One - Little Saigon, Westminster

In about a month, I will become Uncle ED&BM. My younger sister is going to be giving birth to a baby boy and I’m extremely stoked. It’s hard to imagine that the same sister I had punished, beaten up, teased and tormented as a kid is now a fully grown woman. It’s really amazing knowing that your sibling is moving onto the next stage in life. My dad and I just bought her a crib and stroller and headed down to OC to set everything up for her. It’s been a while since we’ve eaten in OC, so we decided this would be a day to absorb the wonderful food of Little Saigon.

During my years at UCI, my diet revolved around tasteless dorm food, Del Taco, Sriracha hot dogs and pseudo-Asian food. But once in a while, I would make a trip down to Little Saigon for pho. I usually ate this around 3 am at this one 24-hour joint, drunk. Pho is truly the world’s best hangover, well, besides drinking more alcohol to rid the headaches.

One of my favorite places to eat at is Quan Hy, which serves Central Vietnamese food. What’s the difference between Central and say, North/South food? The absence of Pho. If you’re looking for pho here, you won’t find it because it’s not their regional specialty. Instead, you’ll find something called Bun Bo Hue which has way more flavor than pho. It’s a soup noodle dish served with thicker, spaghetti-like vermicelli and pork hocks/beef. The soup has a sweeter, lemongrass taste which can be smelled from the other side of the restaurant. So good. Quan Hy is known for its nice interior and a popular choice for younger people. It’s not unusual to endure a 30+ minute wait here, but I think it’s definitely worth it. When we got here, we were behind 9 other parties. I sat down with my Dad and sister and pointed out a decoration that was a lawsuit waiting to happen. Upon entering, you’ll be walking over a small wooden bridge that leads to the hosts’ booth. The pond is only about a few inches deep but let me tell you, you can film Vietnam’s Funniest Videos here. Everytime I’ve been here, I’ve seen someone step into the pond. The shallow water and rocks are quite deceiving. It sucks, but it’s funny.

Sister: “Can you go get me some bottled water? I can’t drink tap water.”
Me: “Sure. Hey, watch that bridge. I bet you someone is going to eat it.”
Sister: “Really, it’s so shallow.”
Me: “Just watch dude.”

I went to a small bakery and bought my sister some water. On the way back, my sister called me on my cell phone. I picked up and I could hear her laughing. I was right. Someone had taken a quick afternoon swim in the 6” pond. When I walked in, it was so messy. Water everywhere! So future Quan Hy patrons, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Quan Hy is alive and bustling with peoples voices and music. It’s decorated with bamboo and random art and definitely has a warm feeling. The place is heavily staffed with waiters, busboys and people working the drink bar. Here’s what we had:

A. Banh Beo - These steamed rice cakes are what people pile in here for. This beautifully presented dish consists of rice cakes with shredded shrimp and fried shallots and is served with tasty fish sauce. I once ate three of these trays (24 banh beos!) Definitely try these. $4.75

B. Bun Thit Nuong Nem Lui - This dish is served in every pho restaurant, but Quan Hy's is slightly different because of the noodles used. The vermicelli noodles are typically thicker than your standard rice noodles. This isn't the best 'Bun Thit Nuong' I've eaten but still tasty. The grilled pork has a nice lemongrass and mint taste. The shrimp paste is moist and has a nice bite to it. $6.95

C. Bun Bo Hue - This is a Central Vietnamese favorite. This dish originates from the Hue region of Vietnam and comes with one large pork hock and thick slices of beef tendon/shank. Try this! The flavor of the soup is great and you'll see this on everyone's table. Even after my sister finished it, I managed to finish all of her soup. Served with shredded romaine and cabbage, not like the bean sprouts that are provided with Pho. $5.75

D. Bun Bo Dac Biet Cha Tom - Same soup and noodles as C but with pork and shrimp patties. Very good. $6.75

Quan Hy is typically more expensive than your average Vietnamese joint, but this comes with a nicely decorated restaurant that attracts a younger crowd.

Next, we headed to the largest mall in Little Saigon known as the Asian Garden Mall (Phuoc Loc Tho). In here, you'll find a lot of jewelry shops, karaoke stores and clothing shops. If you're not into finding a gold necklace, Saigon's Top 40 and clothes I wouldn't be caught wearing, you can circle around the food court. There are about 10 different places to get food and drinks, but my favorite is Dakao. Dakao serves a light noodle dish called Banh Cuon, which can be rolled into a crepe with ground pork/mushrooms or served as plain rice sheets. For $4.75, you can get these noodles with a few slices of homemade pork meatloaf (gio lua), crispy mung bean bread and fish sauce. I get this everytime I'm here.

A. Dakao - It's on the westside of the food court which is located in the middle of the shopping center.

B. Banh Cuon Dakao - No need to say this tongue twister, just point at the large photo and order!

C. Banh Cuon Noodles - Starting from the top left, you can see the slices of pork meatloaf (so good!), ground pork/mushroom banh noodles, plain banh noodle sheets and sweet porkballs on a skewer. It's a lot of fun looking at the food at Vietnamese places - they seriously put out nice colorful spreads.

D. Crispy Mung Bean Bread - Crisp and crunchy; goes well with the soft texture of the fresh banh noodles.

Since I don't come to Little Saigon much anymore, might as well go to all the places I like to eat at. That brings us to another Central Vietnamese restaurant named Brodard, located on Westminster/Brookhurst behind the 99 Cent Store. Like Quan Hy, it's decorated nicely and serves food you don't typically see in a standard Pho restaurant. Central Vietnamese food has a heavy French influence because of the colonization, and its inherent in the menu. Brodard's specialty is their Nem Nuong Cuons (Pork Spring Rolls). You've all had the shrimp spring roll, but this totally kicks its ass. Savory grilled pork is served inside the rice wrapper with a crispy egg roll skin, romaine and chive. They do not serve this with the hoisin/peanut sauce or fish sauce. Instead, you get this fish sauce, coconut milk, ground pork and Sriricha chili sauce - it's great. I once asked the lady at the counter about its ingredients and she just stared at me with no reply. Pushed the wrong button I guess. I usually come here to order the spring rolls to go. For those that have been here, Brodard also opened up the Brodard Chateau which I have yet to try. Looks really nice from the photos.

A. Brodard - Don't be fooled by the ugly non-descript building. It's a nice dining experience.

B. Grubbing in Session - I usually have to wait a good 15 minutes here for a table.

C. Spring Roll Technician - I was being eyed by the people in the kitchen as I took the photos. I like that they have a side window for the curious. I made these same exact rolls for a catering event and they were devoured. I simply used fish sauce because I couldn't figure out their sauce.

D. Rolls to Die For - These are seriously addicting. I was drunk once and ate about 7 of these. I couldn't move. 3 for $3.75.

We ate so much food today. I ate 2 more egg rolls and 1 pork spring roll while driving. By the time we got to my sister's place, my Dad and I were tired. We eventually got everything setup and said goodbye to the expectant mother. She was very happy with the food we ate today, and I'm sure baby Taylor was too. My nephew won't be eating mac n' cheese and lunchables, he's gonna be well-fed as long as I'm his babysitter. Thanks for reading.

Quan Hy
9727 Bolsa Ave
Westminster, CA 92683
(714) 775-7179
*Also a location in Garden Grove

Asian Garden Mall (Phuoc Loc Tho)
9200 Bolsa Avenue
Westminster, CA
(714) 842-8018

Brodard Nem Nuong Restaurant
9892 Westminster Ave, Suite R (Behind 99 Cent Store)
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 530-1744
*Also try Brodard Chateau Read more!

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