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Nov 16, 2009 04:15 PM

Vietnamese restaurants on the Westside?

Anyone have any recommendations for good Vietnamese food on the Westside (besides your mother's house)? I've never had Vietnamese food before, so recommendations -and descriptions- of dishes to MUST try will be helpful.

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  1. Are you looking for noodle dishes or rice dishes? In either case, I wouldn't make your first Vietnamese food experience one on the west side... make the trek to the SGV or OC. After you've experienced proper Vietnamese food, then you can try the places closer by.

    There is Le Saigon on Santa Monica Blvd. (more slanted towards rice dishes, though they have noodles as well).

    Plenty of other threads about this topic... Google is your friend

    Le Saigon
    11611 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

    13 Replies
      1. re: PurpleTeeth

        Oh yeah! I forgot about Reseda!

        I'm veg so I don't get to (non-veg) Vietnamese places much, but my gf thinks Pho 99 in Reseda is pretty good... the one in the same parking lot as Ranch 99. Beware... there's another one nearby, which is apparently not so good. There is also Vinh Loi Tofu if you want to try some vegetarian Vietnamese food... their noodle soups are good enough that even a lot of my meat eating friends like it a lot.

        1. re: will47

          Pho 999‎
          6411 Sepulveda Blvd # 1K1L, Van Nuys, CA‎ - (818) 782-1999‎

          I forgot about this excellent place in Van Nuys

      2. re: will47

        I agree. If you introduction to VN cuisine is on the Westside, you might be turned off for life. Get thee to SGV or OC. It's worth the extra time and gas.

        For beginners: Pho, Banh Mi, Banh Xeo, Banh Beo (Rice Cakes), Spring Rolls, Pork Chop and Rice Plates, Vietnamese Ice Coffee.

        The next step: 7 Courses of Beef, Bun Bo Hue, Bun Tom Thit Nuong, Clay Pot Pork.

        Let's go crazy: Bun Oc (noodles with snails), Shredded Pork Skin Banh Mi, Che (desserts), Bun Cha Ha Noi, Bun Bo Hue (w/ the pig leg), Cha Ca.....

        Things I won't even try: Still waiting....

        1. re: bsquared2

          I actually disagree. I think a more Americanized place like Le Saigon is a great introduction to the cuisine (try the bun with grilled pork) with lots of fresh vegetables. Then one can move onto the more bold flavors of authentic Vietnamese cuisine. I find that places like Le Saigon tend to be favored by people who are LESS familiar with authentic flavors -- some find it hard to go back once they've had the real stuff .

          1. re: a_and_w

            My main problem is when a place is too bland and then misses the point of Vietnamese food. I still stand by my 310 area code = mediocre pho rule.

            I think if you are going to have a bowl of Pho, you might as well have a really good one. It's not like the dish is too extreme. There are a lot of places that serve bland Egg Rolls, but if you have them from Golden Deli/Saigon Flavor/ Vietnam Restaurant, you understand how good they can be. Good quality doesn't mean the flavors are too bold. Plus, the SGV is a fun place for a culinary adventure.

            That is why I suggested trying certain dishes first and then easing into the more "bold" dishes. Also, whatever you spend in gas, you will probably save on your meal. We often eat at places in the SGV for less than $20. I can get 3 sandwiches at Banh Mi Che Cali for less than one at Subway.

            1. re: bsquared2

              I agree with both of you. Sticking with the OP's request, I think Le Saigon is a good starting point. Their dishes tend to be good, flavors are balanced - particularly their rice and bun dishes. Their pho tends to be somewhat light, but my parents (who tend to like lighter flavors) appreciate that. They are often treated by a close Vietnamese friend to some pretty nice restos in Westminster, but have no issues with Le Saigon. I don't think there's nothing bad about the place - just not stellar either.

              The stretch on and around Valley, particularly around and east of Del Mar, is thick with Vietnamese eateries. Most of the clientele is Vietnamese or at least Asian, and the competition is very high. Often times price is the deal maker, but it's not to say that the quality of food suffers across the boards. I personally was not wowed by Golden Deli, and do like Saigon Flavor better. But either place would be great to try a broad range of Vietnamese dishes. If the OP is willing to take the drive - about 35 minutes from the Westside on a good day - then yes, go by all means.

              1. re: bulavinaka

                Le Saigon is a decent choice if you have to stick to the Westside. There are just sometimes where it is worth getting in the car (on a weekend) and driving the 10. These days I drive to Torrance all the time to eat Japanese food. There are decent places in LA, but I think it is worth driving to the South Bay. In fact, today we went to the Japanese market and ate some tasty noodles. Or driving to E. Hollywood for Thai food. It's just so much better.

                If it is your first time having Vietnamese food, a place like Saigon Flavor is a pretty good choice. They have a bunch of different items, the Pho is pretty good and their egg rolls are some of the best in town.

                I see these "vietnamese food on the westside" posts fairly often. As somebody who has been to Vietnam many times and loves the food and culture, do yourself a favor and hop in the car.

            2. re: a_and_w

              My friend tried viet at several Americanized places. Now she won't go out for pho with me, which she describes as "dishwater soup with little twigs and leaves floating in it". And she lives walking distance from Pho so 1 in Van Nuys.

              Do yourself a favor and make the drive across the hill.

              1. re: Bjartmarr

                Pho is all about the soup. There are many places that serve decent Pho, but when you go to the place what really gets it right, it's like a light bulb goes off over your head. It seems like a simple dish, but when you get the good soup (Pho Minh is a good example) you realize that it is actually very complex. Good meat helps and a good place will use the right noodles too.

                Years ago, I remember taking my wife to Pho 79 on Broadway. I hadn't been there in years and they had changed ownership to Pho 97. They had probably the worst Pho I've ever had in my life. And the spring rolls where filled with tough, old shrimp and brown iceberg lettuce. That was her first experience with Vietnamese food in LA and I had to convince her that the place used to be pretty good and that there are other places that were good. I almost blew my chance by taking her to a crummy place. AND if that had been my first experience, I probably would have thought VN food was pretty mediocre.

                I feel like setting up a fund where I kick in $3 so people will drive for the good stuff. I eat VN food almost every day and it is a constant adventure of trying new things. I've always been pleasantly surprised when I adventure beyond Pho as well. Today I will drive from "the westside" to SGV to eat VN food. It's worth the extra couple of bucks in gas and on the weekends the traffic isn't that bad.

                1. re: Bjartmarr

                  Wow...sounds traumatic. Why didn't your friend just go to the place that was walking distance to begin with? Regardless, I never mentioned the pho, which I wouldn't recommend at Le Saigon, and neither did the OP. I said the "grilled pork bun" was a fine introduction to Vietnamese food, and I stand by that. I can't imagine anyone trying that dish at Le Saigon and being turned off to Vietnamese food.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Le Saigon is fine. I stand by my advice of getting out of the Westside and cruising to the SGV. If somebody wanted the best Dim Sum on the Westside I would also tell them to drive to the SGV. Have fun. If you like it, stop by the 99 Ranch Market, go have a Vietnamese Iced Coffee, go to the Vietnamese King of Beef Jerky (Vua Kho Bo). The SGV is a blast.

                    Almost every week, somebody posts about "the best Pho" or "the best Banh Mi" on the Westside(please see the original reply). My advice is still to get in the car.

                    1. re: bsquared2

                      so true!

                      i would go to the westside for french, italian, new american, high-end sushi, gastropubs, indian, ethiopian, middle eastern...

                      but i would no go there for vietnamese.

          2. Regarding Pho 99 in Van Nuys besides the one on Reseda there is also one in
            Oxnard on Saviers Rd. Very good and a real find for the area. Also there is a branch
            in Simi Valley and one in Gardena on Redondo and Western. They turn out really
            good stuff at reasonable prices. For the Westside I stick to Persian food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: smiling ed

              I agree. Pick your neighborhoods/cuisine carefully. People always tell me about new Korean places opening in Hollywood / WeHo and I always say Koreatown is only an extra few minutes. Why not get the best? In fact, I ate at Park's last night and it was well worth any extra time/gas.

              Same thing with Persian in Westwood, Ethiopian on S. Fairfax etc. If somebody in SGV wanted Persian food, I would tell them that they must drive to WLA to get the good stuff.

            2. it's getting cold and for me that spells 'pho' i am reviving this post to get new comments on it.......

              based on this thread so far, i am thinking of going to saigon dish to see if i can get better pho compared to where i go to currently .....namely pho hana in palos verdes and bamboo song in both their pv and lomita location and lastly pho hong long by el camino college which is getting too far for me.....anyone care to comment / compare on my intent will be appreciated.