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Mar 21, 2009 01:45 PM

GOOD Vietnamese Around Costa Mesa

Looking for good (or great) Vietnamese restaurants in, or within easy striking distance, of Costa Mesa. Any ideas?

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  1. Take the 405 north. Get off at Brookhurst and head north. There is an entire world of Viet food waiting for you in Little Saigon, the largest concentration of Viet restaurants in North America. Of particular note is one relatively close to the 405, Xanh Bistro.

    Xanh Bistro
    16161 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

    12 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      Das, what are your top 3 recs for pho over there? I tried Pho 79 on Hazzard. It was good but broth was a bit heavy-handed. Any other recs?

      1. re: Porthos

        Pho Thanh Lich; Pho 86 (especially for morning pho) and Pho Dakao for chicken pho.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Das. Thanks for the Pho Thanh Lich rec. It's currently the best bowl of pho I've had in that area. The broth was complex but not overwhelming like Pho 79. The noodles were excellent and the "filet mignon" was delicious. My only gripe would be that the tripe as a touch overcooked but overall an excellent bowl of pho.

          The chile sauce in the glass jars is amazing. I could see putting that on pretty much everything.

          At Pho Kim Long in San Jose, I was able to get an amazing noodle soup with periwinkle and ground crab. I think it's called bun rieu. Is there anything like that in Little Saigon?

          ***Edit: Online search shows that Vien Dong offers a mean looking bowl of bun rieu. Any other contenders?

          1. re: Porthos

            Glad you liked it. Next time get the meat on the side (I think it's a 50c upcharge but you get a little more meat for that money) and cook it yourself. Just be aware that it will cool the broth quickly, so make sure you cook it at the start, not the end. I think they will give you the tripe on the side too if you ask politely.

            With the periwinkles it's called bun rieu oc. I don't personally like it very much so I don't seek it out -- anyone else got a suggestion?

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              Stopped by Vien Dong for the bun rieu tom oc. It was a delicious bowl of noodle soup with so much going on in terms of flavors and textures. The periwinkles were chewy and briny tasting. The ground crab was delicious. The side of sprouts and herbs that I added into the soup made it a pretty complex dish as I was occasionally surprised by a hint of mint, etc. Not sure if I was supposed to keep the herbs and lettuce in or out of the soup. I chose in.

              It was satisfying but I found myself craving more pho from Pho Thanh Lich.

            2. re: Porthos

              Went back to Pho Thanh Lich. This time for the duck, stewed bamboo, vermicelli noodle soup (bun viet sao mang) . It's only available Saturday and Sundays. This bowl of noodle soup was amazing. The broth was clean, focused, and complex. There was the richness of the broth accented by various herbs and the spash of lime. Amazing stuff. It tasted like really amazing pho gao broth (I apologize for the superfluous use of the words amazing and delicious in this post). I asked the lady at the cashier and she said it was the pho gao broth with some duck broth mixed in. Delicious. The duck leg itself was tender and perfect with the accompanying sweet and sour lemon grass and garlic dipping sauce. I added the magical table side chile sauce to taste.

              It's a tough call, but this bowl of noodle soup may be even more delicious than their filet mignon pho. Depends what you're craving I guess. It's definitely a win win situation here at Pho Thanh Lich.

              1. re: Porthos

                Cuiriously, Banh Cuon Tay Ho serves one of the better bowls of bun rieu oc in Little Saigon. My branch of choice is on Bolsa, next to the Nextel and fabric store, just next to the Mall there.

                1. re: Raspberries

                  has anyone compared the banh cuon at banh cuon tay ho vs pho tau bay? ive been meaning to try the banh cuon at banh cuon tay ho, but i end up going to pho tau bay everytime b/c they are so good

              2. re: Das Ubergeek

                Went to Pho Dakao for the chicken pho yesterday. The chicken meat was good. A nice mixe of white and dark meat. The noodles were a touch soft for my taste and the broth was not as complex or flavorful as the chicken pho at Pho Thanh Lich. In fact, I think I preferred my bowl of pho at Pho Thanh for 50% off vs the chicken pho at Pho Dakao.

                I know I sound like an infatuated school boy but the chicken pho at Pho Thanh Lich rocks. The only caveat is this. I've had the chicken pho 3 times now. The first two times was the chicken pho that comes with innards. Both times were excellent. The chicken breast meat was tender, moist, and thickly cut. The third, time, I just got the chicken pho with chicken breast meat. This time, the breast was more thinly cut and more dry. The broth and noodles were outstanding all 3 times.

                Pho Thanh Lich rocks.

                1. re: Porthos

                  i really need to go there, thats one of the few famous pho places i still havent been to

            3. re: Das Ubergeek

              Das...I eat and enjoy all good food. My situation is complicated by my partner who is a vegetarian. I there a good and authentic Vietnamese restaurant in OC that can accommodate both of us? I enjoy everything and want authenticity and good food...but my partner is a vegetarian. Help??

              1. re: josephnl

                You should try Au Lac. Vietnam has a Buddhist tradition just like China, and so there are meat-free Viet restaurants. Au Lac is expensive by Little Saigon standards but is still a stone-cold bargain by anyone else's standards.

                Au Lac Gourmet Vegetarian
                16563 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

            4. Xanh Bistro is good. I like Quan Hy because they feature Hue style food. Bun Bo Hue or Minced Clam Salad are two of my favorites.

              If you go to Vietnam, most people really think eating Hue food is a big treat. As much as people talk about Pho, I prefer a really good bowl of BBH.

              There are so many good places. Vien Dong is good for Bun Cha Hanoi (another favorite of mine). Ba Le for Banh Mi sandwiches is also good. Spring rolls at Brodard is another no-brainer. Maybe 7 Courses of Beef? When we visit my wife's VN family, that's what they like.

              If you are looking for Pho, my favorite place is Quan Hop (same owners as Quan Hy). They use Filet Mignon and their broth really has the taste of being cooked for a long time. Some places cheat and use MSG rather than cook the bones overnight.

              Pho 79 is the OG Pho Joint, but I think there are better choices now.

              6 Replies
              1. re: bsquared2

                Vien Dong also has really, really excellent nem ran (Imperial/spring/egg rolls). And fantastic cha ca thanh long (turmeric-marinated grilled catfish with dill).

                1. re: bsquared2

                  Just got back from Quan Hop. The filet mignon was excellent, and very thinly cut. The noodles were great. The broth though lacked complexity and there's definitely MSG in there. I'm drinking water like crazy now. My other complaint about Quan Hop is that you can't get tripe in any of the pho. They offer filet, flank, tendon, and beef ball.

                  I recently had a good bowl of pho at Pho Hoa in Hawthorn. The broth was light yet complex but very heavy on the MSG.

                  Will try Pho Thanh Lich next.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    I would disagree about the MSG and the broth. I think the broth is very good there. There are some places that "cheat" and use MSG rather than cook the bones for a long time. I would put their Pho up there with some of my favorites in Little (not to mention BIG) Saigon. As far as tripe goes, not really my favorite so I can't really comment.

                    Of course, lately when I go there, I usually order Bun Cha Hanoi! I think their version is pretty good. Good rice cakes too.

                    1. re: bsquared2

                      It really seems that almost all Vietnamese restaurants use MSG. It just seems to be as much a part of their cooking as salt and pepper is to French or American cooking. Am I wrong? Are there any Vietnamese restaurants that do not use it? I'm not sure that I can always tell, but I think that a bowl of pho in OC (or perhaps anywhere) without MSG is pretty rare.

                      1. re: josephnl

                        Given that fish sauce is a natural source of MSG, you're right...

                  2. Vien Dong on Brookhurst.

                    Get the Bun Cha Hanoi like bsquared said.

                    1. This is slightly on topic... a couple years ago I was taken to a Vietnamese place (fusion I think) in a newer restaurant, a little trendy, nice outdoor patio that had the most wonderful fragrant plants - lemongrass and some other things - on that patio. If any of your answers for terrific Vietnamese in the vicinity meet that profile, please remind me of the name!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Cinnamon

                        Not much to go on on but it might have been S near the Westminster Mall.

                        1. re: New Trial

                          Thank you... I'll visit there next time I'm in the area. I don't recognize the front patio area but the decor scheme is right in tune with the general gist of what I recall.

                      2. I really liked the northern style broth at pho kimmy. anyone else tried this place?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: peppermonkey

                          I tried Pho Kimmy today. It's an excellent bowl of pho. The aroma from the anise and cloves is more aparent in this broth compared to Pho Thanh Lich. Both broths have a very deep and rich flavor but they're different and I don't know if you could say one is better than the other. My only complaint is that some of the meats were pretty fatty.

                          I think my preference is still for PTL. I'm dying to try more of that duck leg noodle soup this weekend.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Glad you liked it. Looks like you're on a little bit of a vietnamese noodle/soup run. Duck leg noodle soup, you say? What is it called in Vietnamese? hopefully i'll get to try it at PTL next time i'm in OC

                            1. re: peppermonkey

                              Check my previous post above for a description of the duck noodle soup. It's called bun viet sao mang. I asked for it with pho noodles on my return visit. I think it's actually better with the vermicelli.