Hue Restaurant in San Jose
I met Karen today for lunch at Hue Restaurant in the new strip mall on Silver Creek Road, to recon their central vietnamese dishes for future South Bay Viet Lunch visits. It was a trip down memory lane to the first chowdown I organized, and when I first met Karen, back in 2000something, when we went to Bun Bo Hue #1 on Senter Road to try various "banh" dishes.
Today at this spiffy clean, modern, bright place, it was opposite in looks but not far from tastes. We ordered 4 banh dishes and wanted to try "something new & different" so I asked our server about a dish called "sour shrimp steamed pork" which she explained to us as "salty sour, like pickle". Hmm sounds strange, we'll take it.
Karen took pictures so when she posts, the pictures should be of the following dishes:
Banh Beo - steamed rice cakes in little saucers with fried lardon/chicharon thingees
Banh Bot Loc - steamed translucent tapioca flour rolls with shrimp and pork
Banh It Ram - sticky rice balls over a fried shrimp fritter thingee
Banh Nam - thin rice flour & ground shrimp wrapped in banana leaves and steamed
Tom Chua Thit Heo Luoc - sour shrimp steamed pork, with rice noodle (you choose with noodle or with rice)
Overall I liked the banh dishes here. All except the banh bot loc seem steamed to order (though the banh beo came out suspiciously fast, hmm). I also really liked the spicy, salty, sour, pungent shrimp & pork belly dish, which went really well with the noodles, mint & greens. I'll let Karen add her thoughts and then maybe I'll remember more details.
3005 Silver Creek Rd, San Jose, CA 95121
re: Alice Patis
Alice, first off, thanks for posting the link to your banh guide - I've "filed" it somewhere and couldn't find it this morning! It is a very helpful in understanding the mysteries of "banh", thanks again for getting it together.
I enjoyed our lunch today - my favorites were the Banh It Ram and the Tom Chua Thit Heo Luoc.
The textures of the Banh It Ram - the contrast between the sticky rice flour balls and the extremely crunchy shrimp fritter "thingee" (love the technical term!) is just a fun thing to eat.
And the big flavors of the Tom Chua Thit Heo Luoc really were a great contrast to the comfort food textures and flavors of the other dishes. My jaded taste buds like sour, slightly spicy, salty and pungent dishes.
And how can you not like the crunchy chicharron that garnished a couple of the dishes!
Your are lucky to work near this area so you can explore - there are so many interesting looking places in this part of San Jose!
So, let me try to post my pix...
re: Alice Patis
Nice work, ladies! Thanks for the photos, Karen. That tom chua thit heo luoc looks great, as well as the comforting banh items. What were Hue's prices like? I know it's been a long time since the Quang Da lunch, but how would you compare the two places on their banh since many of the dishes overlapped? I've linked that report below, but unfortunately, my photos from 2006 have expired so no photos to jog your memory.
re: Carb Lover
CL, thanks for linking the Quang Da lunch - I realized that I don't think I've had any of these dishes since that lunch :-( so I'm no help in comparing them.
I wish your photos were still there... I don't know the prices of each dish but with a tip it was I believe $12/pp. They didn't have a paper take-out menu so thanks to Alice for taking notes!
re: Carb Lover
I had to really read my Quang Da post since I couldn't remember much of the banh (I remembered more of the non-banh dishes). So this is comparing to my post rather than my memory:
Quang Da is way above in the nuoc cham dept. Hue's nuoc cham was weak/watery, even after I doctored it with more nuoc mam. Hue's banh beo had better (lower) flour to topping ratio, and their banh it ram was more memorable, perfectly chewy but not dense at the top, and crunchy airy on the bottom. However Quang Da's banh bot loc had better texture (stretchy-chewy), while Hue Restaurant's seemed reheated in the microwave (bouncy-chewy). Quang Da's banh la is better than Hue's banh nam, which was a little boring since it only had ground shrimp (no pork or green onions).
In price, I think they're similar, the banh dishes were around $3-4. In service, Quang Da is better (Hue's service was sufficient but almost non-existent, though they speak english (& so is the menu) so that's good for non-vietnamese speakers).
Comparing Hue Restaurant to BBH#1 on Senter Road, I think I like the banh at BBH#1 best. The banh there seem more, I don't know, rustic/homey, made or steamed with care. It's been about a year since I've been there though.