Sunday, March 18, 2007

Tay Ho Banh Cuon - Rosemead, CA

Yes... banh cuon, the Vietnamese cousin of the Chinese steamed rice noodles found in dim sum. Similar in noodle texture, banh cuon is made with rice flour, tapioca flour, water and oil and traditionally filled with ground pork, fried shallots and wood ear mushrooms. It is garnished with cilantro, sliced cucumbers, even more fried shallots, slices of pork loaf (cha lua) and nuoc cham (fish sauce dip). It is basically a crepe.

This is a dish I learned to love growing up. Back in the 80s, my dad would take his along on his frequent visits to Chinatown and stop by this one roach coach on the corner of Spring & Alpine to pick up banh cuon. I call them the Banh Mi Boys because its run by two brothers - nice guys. The roach coach is STILL there to this day and I'll find myself going there at least once a week to pick up the deluxe banh mi for $2.25 (not the best, but better than dropping $6 at places like Le Saigon in West LA) and banh cuon. The banh cuon comes in a pack of 10 with fish sauce for $2. I eat TWO of them and a pork skewer (nem nuong). Overall, if you check out this roach coach, don't expect much - it's basic Vietnamese fare. Out on the westside, I can't find sh*t. Banh cuon is good because it's so light and flavorful, as with the majority of vietnamese food.

Banh cuon is a dish you can easily find in any Vietnamese restaurant, but there is one that specifically focuses on it: Tay Ho. After J told me about this place, I salivated like one of Pavlov's dogs . I tried out the one in Rosemead.

Jug O' Juice
I like gin and tonic, and I like my fish sauce tonic. Made with fish sauce, Sriricha chili garlic sauce, lemons, sugar and water... this is the ingredient that makes Vietnamese food so tasty. I love how Tay Ho proudly displays their sauce. It's the 40 oz. of fish sauce. Nice.

Spring Rolls (Cha Gio)
Average. It was edible, but you just have to have that delicious crunch from fresh rice paper. I've been spoiled by Golden Deli/Saigon Flavor/Vietnam House! Here's my posting on cha gio.

Steamed Rice Cakes with Ground Shrimp, Mung Bean & Pork Loaf (Banh Beo)
Banh beo is a steamed rice cake. It's a bit starchier and Tay Ho's version is a bit too thick. My favorite banh beo comes from Quan Hy in Westminster where they present the rice cakes in individual dishes so that nothing sticks to the plate. I regretted ordering this because everything was just powdery and starchy. The mung bean and ground shrimp was intensely dry. Not even the 40 oz. fish tonic could help.

Steamed Rice Noodles with Fried Shrimp Paste
Now this was the best dish out of the whole meal. I love shrimp paste - so sweet and tasty. I borrowed some of the pork loaf slices from the previous dish since we couldn't finish it. The banh cuon was cooked nicely - I devoured this up in minutes.

Vietnamese Pork Vermicelli in Beef Soup (Bun Bo Hue)
This is the next favorite noodle dish after pho in vietnamese restaurants. This comes from the Hue district and is actually more flavorful than pho. The soup is made with beef but served with a pork hock. The soup is strong in lemongrass flavor and is delicious. Unfortunately, Tay Ho's version was lacking in flavor. Does anyone have any recommendations for Bun Bo Hue in LA and OC? I love the one from Quan Hy as well.

Fried Pork Chop with Steamed Egg Cake on Rice (Com Tam Suon Nuong)
Pork chop bland. Egg cake good. And that concludes my extensive review on this dish.

Overall, Tay Ho was ok. I think I'm better off trying the Westminster one. The best meal here is probably the Jug O' Juice. FYI, Tay Ho is owned by the West Lake Food Corporation. You can find products like beef balls, pork balls, fish cake, pork loaves and yes, fish sauce, in most asian markets. The fish sauce may very well be the key buy. Try Tay Ho out for yourself. It could've been an off day for me.

Tay Ho Banh Cuon

1039 E Valley Blvd Ste B103
San Gabriel, CA, 91776
(626) 280-5207


Food Marathon said...

When I was a young suburban lad, I'd drink 40oz of Olde English malt liquor. Little did I know that I should have been drinking 40oz Tay Ho fish sauce instead.

Tokyoastrogirl said...

Hey D,

I've been meaning to ask you.....where can I get the best bahn mi in Alhambra?


Chubbypanda said...

I've got a lead on one of the most amazing bun bo hue I've ever tried. I'll post a review soon.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I just noticed this location the other day and wondered if it was as good as the one in Westminster. I'm thinking not. But I only ever order the banh cuon or banh uot.

I'm not a big bun bo Hue fan, but I hear Bun Bo Hue So 1 on Brookhurst, cross street McFadden, is the best in town. I've not eaten there so I can't vouch for it myself. But since they call themselves #1...

BTW, the steamed pork loaf is cha lua, not gia lua. And you're missing the o in nuoc mam.

eatdrinknbmerry said...

MarathonMan, my 40oz days are over. I was at 7/11 the other day and contemplated buying one... nah. why would i punish myself again when i can buy a 6 pack of better stuff! 4 oz fish sauce = a life of celibacy.

TAG, sure i'll email you.

CP, oh yes, please post soon. WC below mentioned Bun Bo Hue So 1 in Westminster. I'm sure both are killer. Tay Ho's sucked.

WC, J tells me that Westminster is way better.... like every single day. Sticking with the banh's is probably the best choice. It's like going to a steak house and ordering their chicken. Thanks for the corrections, I'm well on the road to becoming the next contender at the Vietnamese Spelling Bee Champion held in Little Saigon.

Jeni said...

The original Tay Ho on Bolsa is the best. I wouldn't go to any other.

We have to make a mama-Westminster trip soon!

susan said...

ooh i see tay ho in my near future. i like vietnamese food but i wish there was more of it close by bc that's the only reason i don't eat much of it. last time i went down to westminster (and first time) i ate like crazy at that 7 beef course place.

so j, what do you recommended at the tay ho westminster location?

Jeni said...

Susan, my mama and I always order #7 - Banh Cuon Nhan Thit. It's banh cuon with ground pork and shrimp "tempura" (more like fried sweet potato).

taste tester said...

Looks absolutely delish!

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