Golden Deli: divine Vietnamese in San Gabriel
- Robert Sieczkiewicz
No doubt some, or many, chowhounds are familiar with this place, but no one has yet posted about it, so (after yet another fully satisfying experience yesterday afternoon) I feel compelled to attempt to describe the wonder that is San Gabriels Golden Deli.
With thousands of places in metro L.A. to get a decent bowl of pho, or a tasty banh mi, why come here? I can think of at least three reasons -- the three dishes I keep coming back to... First, the bun oc -- vermicelli noodles with chewy snails and pork ribs in a brilliant red tomato soup. Equally irresistible is the bun cari-ga another vermicelli soup, this one a spicy-sweet curry with big chunks of potato and, of course, a chicken leg and thigh, still on the bone. Finally, the tiny rice stick (ive forgotten the actual name) cold rice noodles, which are rolled up in a big lettuce leaf with pork (or, if you prefer, shrimp paste), and fresh herbs.
There are many more choices than this -- the menu is almost daunting. Its hard to make a mistake here, not just because the prices are absurdly low. Jonathan G. has written in the Weekly (I think) about the incredible spring rolls. And there is the requisite Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, which I find a perfect complement to anything, but if sweetened bean drinks are your fancy, youll find them here. (A warning, however, for vegetarians: your options are few and poor.)
As for the secondary details, let me say that the place is small; bright and clean; usually crowded (expect to take a number and wait on the sidewalk); and is, in sum, worth any drive (even for those who may think the SG Valley is light years away). Address: 815 West Las Tunas Drive (a strip mall at the intersection of Las Tunas and Mission).
All hail the Golden Deli, home to the best spring rolls in the universe. Also good Saigon-style hu tieu noodles with seafood and delicious banh hoi (the tiny rice sticks), which I get loaded with barbecued pork, steamed egg, shredded pigskin, sugar-cane-grilled shrimp and still more spring rolls. Oddly enough, in the hundred or so times I've been there, it never occurred to me to try the curry noodles. Which is why it's good there is a tomorrow.
Thanks for the great post on Golden Deli, Robert. I agree, it is a treasure. I did briefly mention Golden Deli in a previous post (Le Colonial question, November 10, 1999), but I'm delighted that you gave the restaurant the more expanded description it deserves. I'll look forward to future posts from you.