Xanh Bistro - New Vietnamese in Fountain Valley
- whiteonricecouple Feb 2, 2008 10:42 PM
Geez, this place is easy to miss. Chef Haley Nguyen ( Culinary instructor and now restaurateur) just opened up Xanh Bistro in a hidden corner of a quiet, sleepy shopping center in Fountain Valley. Luckily some friends invited me to this new little secret, or else I never would have ever found this little eatery, let alone seen the four, simple lettered sign outside - X.A.N.H. (meaning the color Green in Vietnamese ). I had the claypot white fish (moist, delicious and perfectly salty like it should be ) with garlic mustard greens ( tender & definitely garlicky). The best part of the meal was the banana blossom salad with chicken skewers infused with lime leaves. This salad was tossed with a bold, flavorful, salty, sour sweet dressing that seemed to draw away the normal astringency of the banana blossoms. Yes! This was a first for me.
Everyone in my group enjoyed the meal , but all agreed on one thing....the staff was still green (just like it's name). The wait staff seemed awfully awkward and still uncomfortable with the newness of their restaurant. But they just opened, so I'm going back again to try more of the exciting menu this week. Maybe by then the wait staff with learn their menu by then too.
16161 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley Ca 92708
This corner of Brookhurst/Edinger has the Albertsons, Burger King and Denny's as the most visible reference points. It's about four shops down from Mi La Cay. Xanh lies right at the apex corner of this quiet L-shaped strip mall, behind the Dennys. To one side of Xanh is a nail spa and the other side is a old theatre in renovation for a furture Viet entertainment venue.
Went there for dinner to celebrate Lunar New Year. Had the Chicken Skewers w/ Lime Leaves. Really nice with the flavor of the lime infused in the chicken. Really enjoyed the Green Mango Salad w/ Shrimp. One of my favorite dishes is Green Mango w/ Dried Fish, maybe they will add that in the future. Also had the Short Ribs w/ 5 spice. Very tender and I love the taste of 5 spice.
My wife also had cold soy milk w/ toasted rice which tasted like Vietnamese Horchata. I've never heard of this before and she liked it even though it was a bit sweet. For dessert we had Chocolate Souffle w/ Ginger Ice Cream! Keep in mind that it takes time to cook the souffle so order early.
Overall we thought this was a nice addition to Little Saigon. Not cheap, but very reasonable for the quality of the food/ingredients. It is so nice to have more upscale VN restaurants opening up. The atmosphere was nice, but still comfortable. I love the hole in the walls, but it is nice to take the wife somewhere a little more romantic and where we can have a conversation.
Service was very friendly but I think they are still working things out. The only weak link was a weak Caphe Sua Da. Give this place a try. I hope they do well since the location seems a little off the beaten track in Little Saigon.
I agree they do cost more and for the quality of food for a small, simple but nice place to eat ,this is a good recommendation. When I walk into a contemporary place like Xanh, I expect to be paying a bit more. But my expectations are also much higher because I still expect to be getting food with flavor, not watered or tamed down . I was pleasantly surprised with some innovative dishes and was very satisfied with the flavor and freshness.
From my visit, I liked the fact that the staff, although still new, we're friendly, humble and sincere, not ego maniacs. I feel like I can walk in there with a pair of shorts and flip flops and still feel comfortable and welcome. I'm tired of some higher end or trendy VN restaurants that have weak, cowardly and overpriced menu's and that treat customers with disdain if their dress code is not in check. Pleeeeze, who needs to get dressed up or look like a movie star to slurp a bowl of Pho? Sorry to vent.
When I need a change of pace from my favorite hole in the walls, Xanh offers a nice balance of everything.
Thanks for your insight. Will have to try the interesting horchata for the next visit.
this place ain't no joke folks. Had the pulled beef sandmich with the over-easy eggs, and they went over easy and I ain't pullin your legs. The meat was nice and tender, and I put in some of the homemade spicy sauce, tasted downright delicious boss. Wanted to eat more but I was full from the generous helping. Gonna come back and that's a fact my friends.
re: Buck Tooth
Went back again today. Again, the Green Mango Salad is fantastic. This time I had the Bo Luc Lac, which was a different version than the usual. Thought the quality of the beef was very good. The sauce wasn't as strong as I've had before. To me it was more like just very good BBQ beef.
My wife ordered noodles and her only complaint was that the noodles were a little too undercooked.
We did try the Egg Rolls which were much better than the usual egg rolls you get at Vietnamese restaurants. Not quite up to Golden Deli standards but very good.
Tried Bread Pudding w/ Tamarind sauce for dessert. The pudding itself was OK, but the tamarind sauce was fantastic. It is a good idea, but could be executed better. It didn't come close to the Chocolate Souffle and Ginger ice cream we had last time.
Service is still working the kinks out. Service was slow but we weren't in a hurry. I still think the people there are very nice and wanted to make sure everything was fine. I do like the atmosphere and I thought I heard Tom Waits on the music playlist. I love VN food and I love Tom Waits, so Xanh Bistro still gets my vote.
I've been to Xanh Bistro 3 times already and i like it more than any other VNmese restaurants in Orange County. The place is simple in decoration but very clean and the staff are quite helpful and courteous. The food is nicely presented and the seasoning is just right based on what i've ordered so far, not too salty, not too sweet, greasy, the sauce is not thick like other restaurants. Looking and tasting the food i could see that the chef/owner Haley Nguyen really enjoys cooking. Every time i tried the goi hoa chuoi or banana flower salad. Another of my favorite is goi rau muong thit bo tai or vietnamese ongchoi salad with medium rare slices of beef. The more typical VNmese soup like canh ca thi la (fish soup with dill and tomato) has a homemade feel to it, delicate and yet still flavorful just like it should be since it's a northern dish, much better than any of the other restaurants, imho. The kabocha soup with shrimp flavored with VNmese shiso (tia to) is a nice creation :-). I also tried ga ham chao, pan fried fish on a bed of julienne papaya, tom bao com (shrimp coated with flattened rice grain then deep fried) all quite good but i don't like as much as the other dishes. Next time i plan to try the ca kho to (clay pot fish) and the papaya/mango salad.
The price is definitely high compared to other VNmese restaurants in the area but for the food quality, ambience, cleaniness and good service i think it's worth it. I do believe in 'you get what you pay for' :-)
The only concern i have is the restaurant has always been quite empty when i was there, the location is not good so i hope it will stay opened for a long time.