"Finer" Vietnamese Dining in Little Saigon, OC??
While there's plenty of good food in Little Saigon, I wouldn't say there's a plethora of "finer" choices. I have friends coming in from out of town whom I haven't seen in a while. I don't want to take them to some hole in the wall, where I know we will be able to get some great chow. In this case, ambience is also important. In addition, they are Vietnamese, too, so they already know typical, hole in the wall, Vietnamese places (not necessarily in SoCal) where you get great food at amazing prices. Not a whole lot of surprises there....
I've heard that Brodard Chateau is quite nice. I've never had anything but the Nem Nuong spring rolls at Brodard and my parents had a Bun Cha Ha Noi that they said was downright dreadful. So, what else might be good at their more upscale sister restaurant?? I'll be paying, so I wanted a heads up on price since I know it's a bit pricier. My inner chowhound is categorically averse to being shafted à la Crustucean, but I want to provide a pleasant evening. How does Brodard Chateau compare to S Vietnamese Fine Dining in food, ambience, and cost?? What other options might there be in Litte Saigon?
Thank you, all!
My brother in food blogging Kirk (of MMM-YOSO), tried S. Vietnamese and thought it was a "mixed bag".
Here's his review:
I haven't been to S. Vietnamese, but got the same impressions on Brodard Chateau. You pay more for the same food, and in some cases not-as-well-executed either.
AYSIA and a new place called V something (can't remember)...both on Brookhurst.
There is a definite lack of fine dining places in Little Saigon. The places like S and Brodard Chateau merely take the same food available at the sister restaurant and charge more for it. The same nem nuong cuon (albeit very tasty and good!) just costs more at the Chateau. As a vietnamese person, why would I pay more for that when I can get the exact same thing down the street at your other restaurant for cheaper? At least with both of these restaurants you will not be anywhere near the shafting you will get at Crustecean; their prices are not THAT high. A nice vietnamese restaurant that is still a good value IMHO is Favori, on First between Fairview and Harbor. They do the whole baked crispy catfish that you roll in rice paper, and they do it well. For other celebrations, we sometimes go to Bo 7 Mon either at Anh Hong or Hong An. And of course there is always lobster at the chinese/vietnamese places like Newport Seafood, Royal Capital, Seafood Cove, etc.
Having said that, I find that for special occasions we tend to hit up the Japanese restaurants in the area. For a group of 5 or less, I really recommend Tsuruhashi at Brookhurst near Garfield, which is a great Japanese BBQ at your table place. Just up the street is Kappo Honda and Shin Sen Gumi, good for izakaya (food on sticks while drinking), but that can get pricey esp with large groups.
Another fun idea would be any of the crawfish places; there are lots like Boiling Crab, Cajun Corner, etc. Have fun!
I haven't been there in awhile (moved out of the area dagnabit!) but Favori is a nice restaurant on the outskirts of Little Saigon. It was quite a pleasant surprise the first time I went: I wasn't expecting a fine dining establishment, the friend I went with specializes in dives.
I ate there several times over the years and the food was consistently good.
Here's a link to the restaurant's website. Menus are posted so you can get some idea of what they serve and prices:
The food is French/Vietnamese
Bun Cha Ha Noi (on bolsa between Magnolia/Bushard) is AWESOME. The service is quick, the food is great: bun cha ha noi, cha ca thanh long would be their specialties.
Now, that being said, finer dining in vietnamese terms and finer dining in american terms are worlds apart (esp. in little saigon). That being said, your best bet hands down is Favori (as mentioned above).
It went there maybe 2 weeks ago with the family and GF: the service is leaps and bounds above normal vietnamese establishments. The ambience is (for the most part) is way better than most normal viet restaurants, ALMOST bordering on romantic.
The killer: since it's so affordable, vietnamese families like to go there. With kids. That talk. Alot. Which definately kills the ambience. BUT, do get the whole catfish + banana flambe.
I HAVE been there when the catfish wasn't so fresh (followed by a long period of not going there). But I've been there many times when the catfish was onpoint (like the visit 2 weeks ago); and when it's onpoint, jesus christ it's good. Also get the beef/lemon/shrimp "salad" (or goi in vietnamese terms)
We went with a group of 4 and it was about 20-25 PP.
Brodard can /itself.
Sorry, just realized it is the S. Viet place that was already mentioned. I usually eat at the Brodard's off Brookhurst and have not gone to the Chateau, but I have also heard that it is more expensive for the same items there rather than at the other.
Da Lat Bistro
16525 Brookhurst St. Fountain Valley
They have the roasted fish like Favori but a newer and nicer ambiance. Last time I was there, the bo luc lac was very good and presented nicely. There is actual wine served at the restaurant.