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ISO Recommendations - Best of Little Saigon

c
Chubbypanda Nov 9, 2006 04:43 PM

I had a great dinner of Seven Courses of Beef (Bo 7 Mon) with several food blogger friends last night that got me thinking about how little I've tapped the glorious culinary jungle that is Orange County's Little Saigon. "Beach", our host and local guide last night, confided to me that most restaurants in Little Saigon specialize in one dish that they each do really really well, and often these dishes may not be on their menus. Intrigued, I decided to go on a tasting tour of Little Saigon to search out the best Vietnamese specialty cuisine the area has to offer.

So, I put to all of you Little Saigon locals these questions: If you were going on a tasting tour of Little Saigon, where would you eat, what would you eat, and in what order would you visit the restaurants?

Since I want to go, but can't afford to vacation in Vietnam at the moment, please take me on a tour of the country through the food.

- Chubbypanda

http://epicurious-wanderer.blogspot.com/

  1. aching Oct 9, 2011 06:26 PM

    So...if you didn't have time for a whole culinary tour, but instead were only going to have one meal (dinner this Wednesday, to be exact), where would you go? What's the best of the best?

    4 Replies
    1. re: aching
      n
      ns1 Oct 10, 2011 09:53 AM

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/529283

      If for no other reason than experiencing 2 types of vietnamese cuisine vs 1 (bo 7 mon + fried catfish)

      1. re: aching
        t
        TNT Adventures Oct 10, 2011 10:20 AM

        Vietnamese food is very regional, meaning that most restaurants specialize in only certain dishes. If you want Pho you go to a Pho restaurant, if you want Banh Xeo you go to a Banh Xeo restaurant, and so on.

        Telling you which restaurant is the best is tough because it really all depends on what dish you want. In my opinion, Brodard does a good job of making all their dishes good. Especially their Cuon Nem Nuong.

        -----
        Brodard Restaurant
        9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

        1. re: TNT Adventures
          Mr Taster Oct 11, 2011 11:31 AM

          It's worth noting that Vietnamese food in Vietnam is also very regional. Many people in Vietnam do not travel very far (certainly the poorer villagers, of which there are many) which leads to a sort of an odd insularity- at least from the travelers perspective.

          During the month we spent traveling through Vietnam (from south to north and then into China) we saw that it was not uncommon for each town to have its own specialty dish which could not be found anywhere else in Vietnam. In fact very often people in neighboring towns would not have even heard of each others specialties. While menus in Little Saigon certainly have expanded well beyond the one or two dish menus of many restaurants in VN, the "one dish specialty" is still more the rule than the exception.

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster
            Das Ubergeek Oct 14, 2011 02:07 PM

            And more often than not, if the speciality isn't in the name of the place (Pho 79, Bun Bo Hue So 1, Pagolac Bo 7 Mon) it's stencilled on the window.

      2. c
        catbert Dec 7, 2010 10:46 PM

        i recommend favori for the catfish. i also like their beef porridge. it's a place with atmosphere so that discourages a lot of people (it's suppose to be like the romantic, dark with little lighting type of place) but if you're there for the food like a lot of us, it won't matter. i don't really suggest their eel and banana flower hot pot, it's kind of a rip off imho. oh and bring some people with you to eat that catfish!

        i like quan hy too. northern cuisine. it's a bit on the pricey side but it's pretty good. the service is iffy. sometimes you have to ask numerous times. it gets busy on common days and times with the pain in the @$$ parking to go with.
        my favorite are the ribs and the clam salad. they make the crackers, which are addicting! most common dishes ordered are the yellow noodles, bun bo hue, and ban beo. the dumplings can get on the really oily side so beware.

        i was at xanh bistro a few weeks ago. it wasn't as good as it used to be. it was also pretty annoying that the owner thought we never had vietnamese food, even though she did ask, kept explaining how to eat all the dishes. by the end of the meal i wanted to yell "my mom is from the motherland yo!"
        this place is great if you like lemon grass. they really know how to use it. loved the satay and lemon grass rice. oh and lemon grass hot tea! the banana blossom salad is a lot better at brodard (chicken salad) imo. they use a lot of charbroiled meat that's pretty flattened. i find it to be on the chewy side. i do not recommend their spring rolls. they used to have a pumpkin soup, but even though it's on the to-go menu, not available.
        this place is known for having fresh local herbs and vegetables, but the portions are also small and on the price-y side. it's not a very big place. it can get busy with a wait.

        speaking of brodard, as others have said, the nem is quite good. my family are big fans of the banana blossom salads. although they no longer give sesame crackers and it's store bought anyways. their vietnamese yogurt, which is cheaper if bought at the counter than the table, is quite good too. a bit higher than some other places, but they also give you more.

        tay ho is known for their rice sheet rolls. the tiny one near by the asian mall is known for their sweet potato tempura.

        luc dinh ky (across from quan hy and a tay ho. the other location, a few blocks away, isn't that good and cooks differently) has grilled crispy rice (not the same as broken rice). they're reliable for late night eats. i'm a fan of their black chicken herbal soup. the salmon is pretty good. the house special egg noodle soup has followers. you get free nuoc mat drinks that are refillable (may need to ask numerous times to get it though))

        van's bakery across from the asian mall is also my fav branch of them as well

        1 Reply
        1. re: catbert
          n
          ns1 Dec 8, 2010 08:05 AM

          "tay ho is known for their rice sheet rolls."

          yes but pho tau bay is soooooooooooooo much better, and my mom's family friends with the tay ho people!

        2. christoofat Dec 6, 2010 12:51 PM

          Excellent topic/posts
          Adding a few more to check out:
          Dat Thanh (10032 McFadden, one block south of Brookhurst) killer nem nuong rolls. The David to Brodard's Goliath.
          Quan Hy (9727 Bolsa Ave.) for excellent Hue cuisine
          Tan Huong Mai (in the shopping center at Bolsa & Brookhurst) a little family run place , everything is excellent especially the banh cuon
          Bun Bo Hue Gia Hoi (9541 Bolsa at Bushard in Bolsa Mini Mall) This place has been there forever, it's run down but still clean inside & their Bun Bo Hue rules.
          Also seconding Pho Tau Bay for their banh cuon. To me, their thin, delicate rice sheets are total bliss.

          -----
          Brodard Restaurant
          9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

          Quan Hy Restaurant
          9727 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

          1 Reply
          1. re: christoofat
            n
            ns1 Dec 6, 2010 12:53 PM

            "Also seconding Pho Tau Bay for their banh cuon. To me, their thin, delicate rice sheets are total bliss."

            I crave it daily.

          2. s
            supersita Oct 25, 2008 10:21 PM

            this is the kind of restaurant review i've been looking for! you've made me so hungry. thank you!!!

            1. j
              jessejames Mar 3, 2008 07:16 PM

              Great posts here - Just getting back from 2 weeks in Vietnam, I can't wait to try some. I had some work down in Westminster for 2 months and we went about 20 times to Saigon Bistro for lunch, tried most of menu, various curries (served with french bread), a house reddish fried rice, some nice steak salad kinda things, pretty tasty and an extensive french menu really good including steak frites, chicken cordon bleu, escargots, turtle soup (like i like at commanders in n.o.), good french bread....all the usual suspects, goat curry with potatoes, various spring rolls (fried and cold)....real casual, nice coffees...they treated us right and i hope to get back soon.

              15470 Magnolia St
              Westminster, CA 92683

              1. s
                StivKaye Mar 4, 2007 09:23 AM

                There's another Boiling Crab on Westminster/Brookhurst (Rite Aid center) that generally has more parking spots.

                1. renaissance Mar 4, 2007 12:12 AM

                  There's this cajun crawfish place down in Garden Grove that's absolutely amazing:

                  Boiling Crab
                  (714) 265-2722
                  14241 Euclid St # C116
                  Garden Grove, CA 92843

                  Delicious crawfish seasoned with tons and tons of spicy chili. Sooo good! Just be sure not to rub your eyes while you're eating - like my friend did - because peeling the crawfish with your hands gets them coated with the spicy powder.

                  I also like Newport Seafood for their sour catfish soup. Yum.

                  1. c
                    Chubbypanda Nov 10, 2006 02:55 PM

                    I love Vietnamese coffee. Thanks for the reccs!

                    - Chubbypanda

                    http://epicurious-wanderer.blogspot.com/

                    1. kingkong5 Nov 9, 2006 07:16 PM

                      One more highlight about Little Saigon - Coffee Shops! Now, any decent restaurant will serve the amazingly rich, super strong vietnamese (French) coffee known as cafe sua da (coffee with condensed sweetened milk on ice). But if you're a red-blooded american male you will love having your coffee at the Coffee Shops. Although we are a laid back and conservative people, boys are boys whereever you are in the country. We don't condone bikini bars or strip clubs in our culture, but you can have your fill of coffee and just a little eye candy at vietnamese coffee shops!

                      $4 buys you a cup of iced coffee, and unlimited iced tea. I happen to like Cafe Vivid, on Euclid between Hazard and Westminster. In this center are 2 other coffee shops! Just sit back, chill, catch a football game on the plasma tvs and chat with your friends. Guaranteed good time and a truly vietnamese experience, because the coffee is most excellent.

                      1. kingkong5 Nov 9, 2006 05:39 PM

                        I remembered a few more highlights of Little Saigon for you. On First Ave between Harbor and Fairview is a small vietnamese restaurant called Favori. I believe they were the first ones to do the whole oven roasted catfish dish. I believe it's deep fried, then baked in the oven so the skin comes out crispy golden and the meat is juicy sweet.

                        You grab some fish, stick it in rice paper wrapper with vegetables, dip in nuoc cham sauce and eat. You can get this dish most other places in Little Saigon now (even at DaLat bistro referenced above), but I pay homage to the place I found had it first, Favori restaurant.

                        And easily the most addicting dish I have ever had is the House Special Chicken at Seafood Cove restaurant. While it's a chinese/vietnamese restaurant, I think it deserves mention because this dish is so good. Come there at lunch on weekdays and prepare to gorge yourself for $4-$6/pp. House Special chicken is diced dark meat, deep fried and served in a buttery garlicky jalapeno sauce. This place serves it the best, and if you try it, you will get addicted too. If you can go with other people, round out your lunch by also getting the bo luc lac, sauteed pea shoots, and the salt/pepper squid or shrimp.

                        OK, that's it for now. I still have yet to find a good bun rieu place, or a good hu tieu place. But I, too, am searching.

                        kk5

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kingkong5
                          c
                          Chubbypanda Nov 10, 2006 02:54 PM

                          You're the man.

                          - Chubbypanda

                          http://epicurious-wanderer.blogspot.com/

                        2. kingkong5 Nov 9, 2006 05:23 PM

                          Interesting question chubbypanda! Being Vietnamese and growing up in the OC, I've had a lot of experience with the restaurants in and around Little Saigon. One thing that has stuck in my mind is that vietnamese people are very fickle when it comes to food. With that in mind, if you see that a restaurant has been around for a long time, chances are they are doing something well - the bad ones don't last very long. This theory holds true for the most part, except for the older restaurants which are getting by on their former reputation (read: Dragon Phoenix) and aren't houndworthy anymore.

                          Like visting Vietnam, the best way to explore Little Saigon is to pick either the South or the North, and move your way across the country. Coming from the South myself, I would say you should start in the South and move North, so I would suggest DaLat Bistro to start the tour. Directly across from Mile Square Park, at the corner of Brookhurst and Heil it sits unassuming. Inside you can get a beautiful $12 steak and fries meal, but what you really want to order is the Mi Dac Biet. It's the house special noodles, with chicken, shrimp and pork. It's served dry with a delectable sauce, and a cup of hot chicken broth on the side. It's also the cheapest item on the menu, around $5.

                          Making our way north, you'll hit Bun Bo Hue So 1 at the corner of Brookhurst and McFadden. It really is the #1 Bun Bo Hue in the area. Delicious slices of tender beef in a spicy, slightly sour broth. If you're like me, order it without the little cubes of coagulated blood, but do add some of the dry chili pepper paste on the table into your soup, as I like it spicy. A bowl here will set you back about $5-$6.

                          Again heading North you reach First Street/Bolsa Ave. This pretty much is Little Saigon, the stretch of Bolsa between Brookhurst and Magnolia. Instead of heading towards the mass of Little Saigon, let's instead turn East down Bolsa Ave. At the corner of Bolsa and Newhope are two excellent restaurants, Newport Seafood and Trieu Chau. Newport Seafood is well known for their fresh lobster. Price will vary during the season from $8.99/lb to $12.99/lb, and most lobsters are 3lbs and up. They bring the lobster to your table alive to get your approval on the size, and then whack it to pieces and stir fry in garlic, butter, black pepper, jalapenos and green onions. The result is absolutely delicious. Wash it down with a nice Heineken. If you have enough people to get more food, do not miss the bo luc lac here (diced beef in garlic/black pepper). It is easily the best one I have had, and they are very consistent with the quality of this dish. The kung pao chicken isn't terrible either, if you're in a large group. But of course, the lobster steals the show.

                          Next door is Trieu Chau restaurant, which has been on this corner for...forever! Which means it is good. It is only open in the morning to about 2pm, they close when they run out of soup. This is the best noodle soup you can get. It's very authentic, it's always crowded, and a great deal for $4-$5/bowl. Make sure to order some of the fried chinese donuts to dunk into your soup.

                          As we head from East to West on Bolsa, you'll hit the mass of restaurants in Little Saigon. I can't say much about them here, as I don't find the majority of them to be chowhoundworthy. They're decent at best, and we use them mainly to stave off hunger than to have a food experience. So if you like the touristy food, go ahead and venture down Bolsa Ave between Brookhurst and Magnolia. Hit the Phuc Loc Tho Asian Supermall, as well as any of the grocery stores there. Just don't eat too much :)

                          Heading North on Brookhurst, you will reach Pho Thanh Lich at the intersection with Hazard. This is my favorite Pho place. The broth is yummy in my tummy, and you can replace the normal bottom round "tai" meat (the raw meat in pho) with filet mignon for a small upcharge. Always order the tai on the side, so you can cook it in the broth to your desired doneness. If you do not do this, when they pour the scalding hot broth into the bowl in the kitchen, all of your tai will come out well done. A bowl of pho here will set you back $6-$7 but it is so worth it.

                          Heading North to Westminster Ave, you'll run into Brodard restaurant. This place is famous for the Nem Nuong Cuon, or spring rolls made with bbq pork paste. 4 rolls for $5 and a small cup of orange dipping sauce. These are the best! They are wrapped in rice paper skins, with lettuce, pickled veggies, a small crispy fried egg roll wrapper tube for texture, and the delicious bbq pork paste flavored with garlic and nuoc mam. Dip this into the sauce provided (which for some reason contains bits of ground pork and crab meat) and have a little taste of heaven.

                          Continuing West, you'll run into Thanh Son Tofu factory. Here on Westminster between Brookhurst and Bushard, you can buy some freshly pressed Tofu (hot off the press!) along with fresh soy milk and fresh tofu pudding. They all sell some of the best banh cuon for takeout that you can get. Be sure to try the green tofu pudding, which is pandan flavor, which comes with a side of sugar syrup and coconut tapioca milk. Delicious! $1 for 1 brick of fresh tofu, $1.50 for a quart of soymilk and I think about $2 for the large container of soy pudding. Banh Cuon for $2/lb and freshly fried tofu, 8pcs for $1.

                          Continuing west, you'll get to Pho Bolsa at the corner of Magnolia and Westminster. This place has very good Pho Ga (complete with all the requisite guts and ovaries), but I really like the Pho Ap Chao here. Basically, it's similar to the chinese chow fun with gravy. Thick rice noodles stir fried with crisp vegetables, your choice of meats (beef for me please!) and a light gravy. $7

                          Turning north onto Magnolia from here, you'll hit an In N Out at Trask. Behind the In N Out is one of Little Saigon's newer restaurants, Brodard Chateau. This place isn't really vietnamese, but I include it here as a fun date place within Little Saigon. The inside is dark, yet fashionably decorated. It's very clean and hip, which is good for a date. So check this restaurant out when you get a chance, the food was very good, but the atmosphere was something I never thought I would find in Little Saigon.

                          Phew! I hope you enjoyed the tour. The only other suggestion I have is to round out your meal, head over to a che place for dessert. Che is the vietnamese soupy sweet dessert, and Hien Khanh is the place to get it. There is the old store, which is one block east of Thanh Son Tofu on Westminster, but I like the new location in the T&K minimall on Bolsa just east of Bushard. I like the che thai, which comes in soupy coconut milk, with lychees, gelatin strips and other goodies. About $2-$3 per large serving.

                          Next time you go, call me up so one more chowhound can join you. I'm in the area :)

                          kk5

                          36 Replies
                          1. re: kingkong5
                            elmomonster Nov 9, 2006 05:36 PM

                            Excellent. This post is a keeper! Thank you!

                            http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

                            1. re: elmomonster
                              c
                              Chubbypanda Nov 10, 2006 02:54 PM

                              Hey Elmo,

                              *eyebrow waggle* Up for some more eatin' adventures?

                              - Chubbypanda

                              http://epicurious-wanderer.blogspot.com/

                            2. re: kingkong5
                              MEalcentric Nov 9, 2006 07:36 PM

                              AWESOME post. Thanks so much. Reminds me I am due for a trip to Bolsa. Thanks!

                              1. re: kingkong5
                                c
                                Chubbypanda Nov 10, 2006 02:53 PM

                                Awesome! This post is taking up permanent residence in my briefcase. Thank you so much.

                                - Chubbypanda

                                http://epicurious-wanderer.blogspot.com/

                                1. re: kingkong5
                                  s
                                  Sandra W Nov 21, 2007 05:28 PM

                                  I've never been a big fan of pho. I like the idea in principal, but... sometimes it's the lack of beef broth flavor, sometimes the low quality of meat. Thank you KK5 for your Pho Thanh Lich recommendation. Ordered it with the rare steak and filet mignon on the side. Broth was rich, full of onions and anise. Beef was top notch. Also included in the "outrageous" six dollar price, was a small bowl of a coconut flavored creamy/pudding-like dessert with all sorts of rice treasures. Westminster is a loooong drive for me. This was worth it.

                                  1. re: Sandra W
                                    kingkong5 Nov 22, 2007 01:23 AM

                                    Sandra,

                                    I've got to say, there's so many of us on this board that freely write about the good food we've experienced and freely share it with others. All of this time and effort doesn't come for free however, and I sometimes I wonder why we put time aside to create writeups of our favorite restaurants. What exactly do we get out of this?

                                    Personally for me, I've shared meals with a bunch of chowhounders, and learned about some really great restaurants I would never have discovered otherwise. And to hear you speak of Pho Thanh Lich a year after we posted about it, that just really made my day. I'm so glad to hear that you liked it too. And next time you're down here, try the Brodard nem nuong cuon rolls too (the two shops are fairly close, and sometimes we will have the nem nuong rolls first and then head over for Pho Thanh Lich immediately after).

                                    1. re: kingkong5
                                      s
                                      Sandra W Nov 22, 2007 07:14 AM

                                      Brodard was one of my first Westminster restaurants. My plan was to hit that next, but... <sigh> next time. Several years ago (four or five -- eeks!) a large group of chowhounders had a fabulous meal there. It was one of our first large get-togethers. I'm partial to the banh cuot (khot?)

                                  2. re: kingkong5
                                    a
                                    anothernotch Mar 3, 2008 03:57 PM

                                    outstanding post.

                                    1. re: anothernotch
                                      Das Ubergeek Mar 4, 2008 08:17 AM

                                      Just FYI -- Trieu Chau closes by 5 PM at the latest -- it is really not a very safe neighbourhood and they just close early. Newport Seafood stays open later but do make sure you park your car in the lot and not on the side streets.

                                      Other great places in Little Saigon:

                                      Pho 79 (the OTHER corner of Brookhurst/Hazard) - almost as good as Pho Thanh Lich
                                      Pagolac (same plaza as Pho Thanh Lich) -- seven courses of beef / bo bay mon
                                      Pho 86 - they have the best morning pho (lighter broth before it's been boiled all day)
                                      Vien Dong, Brookhurst/13th - fantastic bun cha Ha Noi, wonderful skillet-fried catfish with dill (cha ca thanh long), great nem ran (cha gio, spring rolls)
                                      Van's Bakery, Brookhurst/15th - pandan waffles, banh su (cream puffs), sinh to (fruit shakes), and all the coconut-and-pandan treats you could want
                                      Com Tam Thuan Kieu, Brookhurst/13th - great com tam (broken rice plates) with wonderful cha (Viet quiche) on top, dau hu ky (shrimp paste-stuffed tofu) and lap xuong (sweet sausage)
                                      Boiling Crab, Brookhurst just south of Target - boil-in-a-bag seafood with Cajun spice, YUM. Don't wear nice clothes here.
                                      Banh Cuon Tay Ho, same plaza as Boiling Crab - banh cuon, obviously. Housekeeping's a little scary.
                                      Banh Mi Che Cali (several locations) - 3 for $3.50 French sandwiches, 3 for $3 che (coconut-based pudding)
                                      Banh Mi Cho Cu, Magnolia and Hazard - even cheaper sandwiches, delicious xiu mai sandwiches (meatball), goi cuon (raw rice-sheet rolls with shrimp and pork and herbs)
                                      Xanh Bistro, across from Mile Square Park on Brookhurst - beautiful ca kho to (fish in caramel sauce in a clay pot), delicious banana blossom salad, actually a nicer sit-down place than your usual place

                                    2. re: kingkong5
                                      Funwithfood Aug 15, 2010 08:53 PM

                                      Took your post along with me today, I went to Newport Seafood, but a party of one is not what one should do here (would have been $56 for the minimum 4 pound lobster meal). The gal was very nice and very welcoming. I'll be back with a friend...or two!

                                      Then I ventured out to Trieu Chau. I wasn't sure what to order exactly. The man was very nice. When I opened the package I had a bowl of nice broth with another container of 'mystery meats' which were unappealing. My friend insisted they be put into the trash which wasn't hard to do. The broth was delish, but I need to know what to order so I don't end up with offal meats!

                                      Then I went to Pho Thanh Lich. They were not at all proficient in English, but nice enough. The brisket/prime rib combo was tasty (excellent suggestion to not have the meat put into the broth for take out--cooks in an instant at home in the hot broth).

                                      Although it was good, the best Pho I have had to date is the brisket (I think #9) version at Pho 94 directly in front of the 99 Ranch Market on Euclid in Anaheim, just before the 5 fwy. Best broth, bar none, but I'm open to any challengers!

                                      Thanks for the adventure--had a fun afternoon.

                                      -----
                                      Pho Thanh Lich
                                      14500 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

                                      99 Ranch
                                      17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                                      Newport Seafood Restaurant
                                      4411 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                                      1. re: kingkong5
                                        Mr Taster Dec 6, 2010 10:24 AM

                                        Hi kingkong5,

                                        I have used this as a baseline for visits to LS in the past and it is a marvelous introduction to the area. Still have not been to Da Lat Restaurant (though I've been to Da Lat :)

                                        With regard to your statement
                                        >> Trieu Chau restaurant, which has been on this corner for...forever!

                                        I attempted to find it where you indicated on the corner of Bolsa and Newhope and came to a desolate corner with a McDonalds and auto repair shops. Can I assume that this restaurant finally gave up it's old location and became the New Trieu Chau, on the corner of Brookhurst and Westminster?

                                        Edit: Apparently yesterday Google maps took me to the wrong place. I see now Trieu Chau next to Newport Seafood. But I have the same question... is the New Trieu Chau related to the original? How does the food compare? And you only describe it as "noodle soup"... is this pho or some different kind of soup? I did pop in to look at the menu of New Trieu Chau and I did see the Chinese donuts, "white noodles" and "yellow noodles" on the menu. I am altogether unfamiliar with Vietnamese non-pho soups this type of soup, so I would very much appreciate a few pointers.

                                        Thanks-
                                        Mr Taster

                                        -----
                                        Newport Seafood Restaurant
                                        4411 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                                        Trieu Chau
                                        4401 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                                        New Trieu Chau Restaurant
                                        9902 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                                        1. re: Mr Taster
                                          n
                                          ns1 Dec 6, 2010 10:26 AM

                                          common word is NTC nothing like old Trieu Chau

                                          Get to old trieu chau before 10am or there will be no chinese donuts left

                                          Not pho, more egg noodle soup. I get the TC noodle soup or house special noodle soup or whatever. The only "offal" which I don't like is liver. The rest is fairly standard. The chinese donuts though are the real winner, and ALWAYS sell our ridiculously early.

                                          if you can't get chinese donuts when you arrive I'd go to Pho Tau Bay down the street for some banh cuon.

                                          -----
                                          Trieu Chau
                                          4401 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                                          1. re: ns1
                                            Mr Taster Dec 6, 2010 11:35 AM

                                            What kind of a soup is the house special? Other than containing egg noodles (and not containing liver), I really have no sense of what it is.

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                              n
                                              ns1 Dec 6, 2010 11:37 AM

                                              you know what's funny, you and me both.

                                              I call it "delicious mystery broth"

                                              I actually lived around the corner for 15+ years. Only went there once and thought it was whatevers, but my mom used to get chinese donuts there all the time.

                                              after i became a hound i went back. first time was okay good, not WOW amazing. Came back a 2nd time and I was hooked.

                                              It's not say, Langer's amazing, but their chinese donuts + noodle soup = cheap awesome meal. Personally I wouldn't drive for it but I do crave it when I'm in the area - I won't go if I can't these those chinese donuts though, which means I only go when I spent the night at my parents.

                                              BTW, pretty sure liver is a standard meat there.

                                              1. re: ns1
                                                Porthos Dec 7, 2010 10:53 AM

                                                Disagree! I find Trieu Chau to be WOW amazing on the order of Langers easily. That broth is porky, flavorful and pure. It's made from long simmering of many bones and topped with bits of pork fat.

                                                To make things easy, in the future, first timers should just walk in and say the magic words: "house special noodle soup, small white noodles (pho noodles)".

                                                When your bowl of noodles arrive, its full of roasted duck leg, soy sauce braised chicken, 3 shrimp, bits of pork, 1 slice of pork, 1 slice of fishcake, and pork meat balls. There is all of 1 small piece of liver which I remove.

                                                Try the soup first so you can taste the clarity and complexity. Then top it with ample amounts of the chile sauce which is as addicting as the chile sauce at Pho Thanh Lich but tastes completely different. Enjoy. I get a once a week craving.

                                                You will notice more advanced eaters ordering the thin yellow noodles "dry" with soup on the side, ordering an extra side of "bone soup", and also the truly serious eaters ordering a mix of both thin and thick white noodles or a mix of thin white and thin yellow noodles.

                                                Finally, to echo NS1, New Trieu Chau is not even close to the original Trieu Chau. There is no comparison.

                                                -----
                                                Trieu Chau
                                                4401 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                                                1. re: Porthos
                                                  Mr Taster Dec 7, 2010 10:56 AM

                                                  Thank you Porthos for the thorough description of the house special soup. I am actually quite surprised that, prior to your posting that I have been unable to find such detail considering how long the place has been around. To draw further comparison with Langer's, consider how many people have described in loving detail every succulent texture and flavor of Langer's pastrami, and yet a simple description of Trieu Chau's soup remained vague if not nonexistent. Until now, that is :)

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  -----
                                                  Trieu Chau
                                                  4401 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                                    Porthos Dec 7, 2010 12:18 PM

                                                    Langer's is frequented by bloggers and foodies. Trieu Chau has been supported by locals many of who don't speak English much less care about blogging and posting photos. It is packed from open to close, 7 days a week and is every bit the institution Langer's is. The the history, the wait, the way the soup is made, and the irresistable cravings it spawns speak for itself. If Tony Bourdain had gone to Trieu Chau in his LA episode, there'd no doubt be Shakespearean prose describing Trieu Chau and its many bowls of paradise.

                                                    As for those chinese donuts (aka fried crullers) I tried it once and didn't think much of them. You'll get a much better version at any good Taiwanese breakfast place.

                                                    Btw, I drive all the way down from Westwood for it sometimes when the craving hits...its that good.

                                                    -----
                                                    Trieu Chau
                                                    4401 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                                                    1. re: Porthos
                                                      n
                                                      ns1 Dec 7, 2010 12:32 PM

                                                      @Porthos

                                                      "You'll get a much better version at any good Taiwanese breakfast place."

                                                      You won't get a better version at any vietnamese breakfast place, at least not from my experience.

                                                      But really, we'll just have to agree to disagree =P

                                                      Maybe we should do a chow meetup.

                                                      1. re: ns1
                                                        Porthos Dec 7, 2010 12:43 PM

                                                        It's been a while since I had the fried crullers at Yung Ho in SGV but you should give that a try if you like the stuff (maybe ask for an update from Ipse or Chand for best fried crullers at the moment). On my last visit a couple of years ago, they were hot, crispy, soft and airy in the middle, sometimes a bit oily if you let them give you the refried ones, but they were unbeatable when fresh. The difference is/was as striking as a good baguette in France vs prepackaged La Brea bakery baguette or Pizzeria Mozza pizza crust vs most places in LA or a hot bagel from Ess-a-Bagel vs the stuff here in LA...

                                                        -----
                                                        Yung Ho Restaurant
                                                        533 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                        Pizzeria Mozza
                                                        641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                  2. re: Porthos
                                                    n
                                                    ns1 Dec 7, 2010 11:05 AM

                                                    Meh, we'll have to agree to disagree.

                                                    Also, TC's chinese donuts are like Langer's rye bread. Would you go to Langers @ 2pm if they ran out of rye bread?!

                                                    Thanks for the lesson on Trieu Chau though. It IS a nice assortment/amount of meat that they give you. Quite generous IMHO.

                                                    1. re: ns1
                                                      Mr Taster Dec 7, 2010 11:25 AM

                                                      With regard to your comment about that abundance of meat, here's a side observation from the Little Saigon adventure on Sunday.

                                                      The lady at Pho 79 made the interesting observation that pho in Vietnam is generally inferior to pho in America because the price of meat (and bones) are so high relative to income. It's no secret that to make a great beef soup or stock, you need a high ratio of bones to water. So, more bones = better soup = higher cost.

                                                      N.B. I am told by my Vietnamese friend who lives in HCMC that the more expensive restaurants in Saigon do make their pho to a higher standard, but this is a relatively recent occurrence.

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster
                                                        n
                                                        ns1 Dec 7, 2010 11:32 AM

                                                        I made a similar observation on my trip to vietnam.

                                                        food from little saigon > food from vietnam due to better products.

                                                        1. re: ns1
                                                          Mr Taster Dec 7, 2010 11:48 AM

                                                          She made that specific observation only about pho and meat products. She was quick to say that the vegetables of course are as good if not better in VN as it is a very local market based culture.

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                            peppermonkey Dec 7, 2010 02:13 PM

                                                            Definitely food in general is better in Little Saigon b/c everyone and their mama in Vietnam has a restaurant to make a little extra . Pho (PTL, Pho Kimmy, Pho Minh) was also better than famous pho institutions in Saigon. But nothing in Little Saigon can come close to the Banh Mi lady in front of our hotel in Saigon, who baked sesame seed baguettes every morning to go along with her perfect balance of pate, handmade mayo and 3 types of cured meats or the Tony Bourdain soup lady who's broth was as clear and perfect as any Robuchon's broth and filled with a variety of seafood all cooked separately to perfect tenderness.

                                                            -----
                                                            Pho Minh
                                                            9646 Garvey Ave, South El Monte, CA 91733

                                                            1. re: peppermonkey
                                                              n
                                                              ns1 Dec 7, 2010 02:52 PM

                                                              I wish I knew where your banh mi lady was when I went.

                                                              1. re: ns1
                                                                peppermonkey Dec 7, 2010 03:20 PM

                                                                My room was right above her cart and the smell of the bread baking every morning was divine. I ate a her banh mi every morning even if we were going to have a breakfast right after. She thought I was crazy.

                                                    2. re: Porthos
                                                      c
                                                      collegedad35 Sep 2, 2011 12:23 PM

                                                      Agree. The original Trieu Chau's broth is still superior to New Trieu Chau. When New Trieu Chau first opened I quit going to Trieu Chau and switch to New Trieu Chau because I do not want to wait in line, However, one day I came back to the original Trieu Chau and realized that their broth is way better. I now going back to the original Trieu Chau, putting up with problems of parking, standing in line for the better quality of food. After all, I am a foodie, I eat where the food is best. New Trieu Chau is still OK, but if you want the best, go to the original Trieu Chau at First and Newhope.

                                                      -----
                                                      Trieu Chau
                                                      4401 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                                                      New Trieu Chau Restaurant
                                                      9902 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                                              2. re: Mr Taster
                                                Das Ubergeek Dec 8, 2010 09:30 AM

                                                Oh sweet mother of milk toast, DON'T go to New Trieu Chau. It is—and I exaggerate not even a little bit—the very worst restaurant experience I've ever had the misfortune not to be able to avoid having. Somewhere on these boards is a capsule of my awful experience.

                                                -----
                                                New Trieu Chau Restaurant
                                                9902 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                  Mr Taster Dec 8, 2010 09:42 AM

                                                  Looks like this is it.... thanks for the warning. Though on Sunday when I peeked my head in, the restaurant was crowded with a line out the door.

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/465003

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                                    Das Ubergeek Dec 8, 2010 09:46 AM

                                                    So, too, is Chili's. And the Olive Garden. De gustibus non est disputandum.

                                              3. re: kingkong5
                                                c
                                                collegedad35 Aug 21, 2011 12:57 AM

                                                This is an excellent post for Little Saigon. I like to update the information. Pho Bolsa at Magnolia and Westminster has been closed. You can go to the original Pho Bolsa at Brookhurst and Westminster next to Rite Aid. My other two favorite Pho are Pho Lu on Westminter Ave just East of Brokkhurst on the north side and Pho 86 SE corner Hazard and Brookhurst. If you go to Brodard, buy the Nem Nuong Cuon to go, the place is crowded, overrated, overpriced, terrible sevice, nothing else is good beside Nem Nuong Cuon. Nobody has beaten this place's dipping sauce yet. So buy it to go, don't eat there, you better off going to Brodard Chateau on Trask (own by same family), the price is a little higher but the decoration, the service and ambiance is very nice.

                                                -----
                                                Brodard Restaurant
                                                9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                                                Pho Bolsa
                                                13912 Brookhurst St Garden, Grove, CA

                                                Brodard Chateau
                                                9100 Trask Ave Garden, Grove, CA

                                                Pho 86 Restaurant
                                                14576 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

                                                Pho Lu
                                                10141 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92843

                                                1. re: collegedad35
                                                  Das Ubergeek Aug 22, 2011 10:54 AM

                                                  Have you tried the nem nuong cuon at Dat Thanh? I think it's better than Brodard. I'm with you on Pho 86, though—their fatty brisket is the best cut of meat in a bowl of pho in Little Saigon.

                                                  -----
                                                  Brodard Restaurant
                                                  9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                    Porthos Aug 25, 2011 01:20 PM

                                                    Went to Pho 86 for lunch just now based on this update. The well cooked cuts of meat are indeed delicious and have the perfect amounts of meat/fat/chewy parts per slice. It is a delicious bowl of pho.

                                                    You can get a similarly awesome mixed bowl of meat in pho at Quan Hop also on Brookhurst right across from Che Cali. It is a more expensive bowl of pho by about $1.25 ($0.50 if you use credit card at Pho 86) but you get thinly sliced filet mignon instead of standard eye round for the rare beef. Quan Hop is also great on a warm day like this because they have AC...if you're craving pho and don't want to sweat bullets.

                                                    -----
                                                    Quan Hop Restaurant
                                                    15640 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

                                                    Pho 86 Restaurant
                                                    14576 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

                                                    1. re: Porthos
                                                      Mr Taster Aug 25, 2011 01:48 PM

                                                      Yeah but remember, Vietnam is a tropical country... eating hot pho and sweating bullets is part of the Vietnamese experience :)

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                2. re: kingkong5
                                                  scottca075 Aug 22, 2011 08:32 PM

                                                  Wow, what a reply.

                                                  Are you around still kk5? What has changed?

                                                  1. re: scottca075
                                                    kingkong5 Sep 2, 2011 09:53 AM

                                                    It's been a while since I've been back. 2006 was a while ago, although I guess I've been eating just the same since then (although now with my wife and two little kids!). We still live in Garden Grove so we make our way out to eat every now and then when we're not cooking at home. I think I'll talk to Das Ubergeek to check on updates for the newer restaurants and update the "tour of Little Saigon" choices :) There certainly have been a lot of new openings and closings since 2006.

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