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Vietnamese in Orange County

c
CurryLover Dec 27, 2010 05:23 PM

I need some recommendations for Vietnamese (pho) or any other kind of excellent not to miss Asian restaurants in OC. My plan was to go to Xanh Bistro Fountain Valley tomorrow for lunch but I just discovered they aren't open on Tuesdays....what's the next best out there??? Thanks for your help & recommendations!

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Xanh Bistro
16161 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

  1. Das Ubergeek Dec 27, 2010 08:57 PM

    Well, while I love Xanh, it's not the place for pho. If you want pho, go to Pho Thanh Lich on the SE corner of Brookhurst and Hazard in Westminster, and order pho. Make sure that if your order includes tai (rare steak) that you pay the 50c upcharge to have it on the side; then it will stay rare as you swish it around in the broth.

    If you really want your brains blown out by flavour, spend $7.50 at Vien Dong (on Brookhurst in Garden Grove, around 13th) and get a bowl of bun cha ca Thang Long. That's a layered dish of salad and herbs on the bottom, tepid (on purpose) rice noodles above, then topped with turmeric-marinated grilled fish with wilted (on purpose) dill and onions. The whole is served with a pungent shrimp sauce that makes it all come together; make sure to add some heat in the form of the chiles on the table.

    Or, if rice dishes are your desire, on McFadden just a block or so east of Brookhurst is Dat Thanh, a tiny place in a little minimall. Start with nem nuong cuon, better than Brodard's, and then get a plate of com tam, broken rice, with whatever toppings you like. I love their cha (egg pie) and lap xuong (sweet Cantonese sausage), as well as dau hu ky (shrimp paste stuffed in tofu skins and deep-fried).

    If you're looking for thick, great, hearty soup, skip the pho and head to Bun Bo Hue So 1 on Brookhurst and McFadden and order up spicy oxtail and pork knuckle soup. Whether you add huyet (blocks of pork blood) is up to you, but I think they enrich the dish.

    There are hundreds of other restaurants but that should get you started.

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    Vien Dong
    14271 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

    Pho Thanh Lich
    14500 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

    24 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek
      c
      CurryLover Dec 28, 2010 03:57 PM

      Thanks, Das Ubergeek, we actually ate lunch at Vien Dong today...I really had no time to do any research, but your recommendation turned out to be fabulous. My husband and teenage son had the bun cha ca Thang Long & loved it. We also got whatever the rice paper spring roll appetizers are called (can't remember off top of my head.) My daughter & I got the simple pho. We wanted pho - since we don't have that at home in Ohio & have to make a special 45 min drive to the nearest metropolitan area for that - which is not practical in the winter time. We were very pleased. Wish we had more time to explore the area...you are right there are hundreds of restaurants in Little Saigon - but I had no time to do research & plan. Thanks again for responding so quickly & giving me some good food recommendations. I sure hope the weather warms up eventually for you southern Californians - you have nothing to complain about temperature wise compared to midwest weather - but I'd rather be shoveling snow than mud!

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      Vien Dong
      14271 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

      Thang Long Restaurant
      9550 Bolsa Ave Ste 115A, Westminster, CA 92683

      1. re: CurryLover
        Das Ubergeek Dec 28, 2010 04:25 PM

        I had no idea Vien Dong served pho! How was it?

        I love Vien Dong... I'm long overdue for a visit.

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        Vien Dong
        14271 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

        1. re: Das Ubergeek
          adamclyde Dec 28, 2010 08:55 PM

          While my experiences in Westminster aren't completely exhaustive yet, vien dong also has the best cha gio I've had in little Saigon. Like nem nuong, banh mi and pho, cha gio is one of those wonderful dishes that even Vietnamese neophytes can't argue with. And vien dong's are fantastic, i thought.

          1. re: adamclyde
            c
            CurryLover Dec 30, 2010 12:58 PM

            adamclyde, you are right - the cha gio was absolutely wonderful at vien dong- they were huge. Unlike anything we've ever had. They were the BEST we've ever had, actually. We ordered two dishes thinking they were small cha gio - they turned out to be HUGE. One order would have been plenty for a family of four but we didn't know what to expect at first.

            1. re: CurryLover
              Das Ubergeek Dec 31, 2010 08:27 AM

              They DO have awesome cha gio—the first time I ever went (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/393588), they didn't serve pho, and they gave me a free order to try... still the best cha gio in Little Saigon, and I've eaten a LOT of cha gio in Little Saigon in the last four years.

              They have "on" days and "off" days, like all restaurants—on the "off" days, they're merely very good, but when the kitchen is "on", it's still a magical place to be, even though the restaurant is 30+ years old.

          2. re: Das Ubergeek
            c
            CurryLover Dec 30, 2010 12:54 PM

            Das Ubergeek, the pho was very good. I've never had bad pho so it would be hard to compare. It was my 16 year old daughter's first time having pho & she loved it. There were plenty of other things on the menu I would have loved to try...but it doesn't work that way for a one time visit. Thanks for all your help.

          3. re: CurryLover
            Porthos Jan 3, 2011 01:45 PM

            I have eaten very well based on Das' recommendations.

            Vien Dong is excellent. The bun bo hue and bun cha hanoi (30% off) are my standards. They also have a vermicelli noodle dish that's a soup of spareribs, chayote, green plantains. It's absolutely killer and rounds out my top 3 for Vien dong. The pho is not as good as Pho Thanh Lich.

            Speaking of Pho Thanh Lich, the filet mignon pho is good but the chicken pho is just as steller if not better. The duck leg vermicelli noodle soup is also delicious (weekends only).

            Can't miss in Westminster is Trieu Chau (the one on Newhope and Bolsa). Get the "house special noodle soup with small white noodles" which is bascially a meatlover's bowl of noodles. As good as the pho is at Pho Thanh Lich and as good as Vien Dong is, I find myself going to Trieu Chau 4 to 5 times more than the other 2 places.

            Another one of my favorites in Westminster is Com Tam Thuan Kieu for broken rice plates (another Das rec) right across from Vien Dong. Come hungry, leave stuffed silly.

            -----
            Vien Dong
            14271 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

            Pho Thanh Lich
            14500 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

            Trieu Chau
            4401 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

            Com Tam Thuan Kieu
            120 E Valley Blvd Ste I, San Gabriel, CA 91776

            1. re: Porthos
              Searching4Dunny Jan 3, 2011 02:43 PM

              Just ate at Vien Dong today for lunch. Got the bun cha TL and it was fantastic. My dining companion had the beef pho and whle the meat was very good, the broth seemed to lack a bit of flavor. I will definitely check out Pho Thanh Lich.

              I also received a recommendation for Pho Kimmy on Bolsa and Bushard from a Bolsa resident today. Has anyone tried this place before? I'd be interested to hear any opinions.

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              Vien Dong
              14271 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

              Pho Thanh Lich
              1036 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90813

              1. re: Searching4Dunny
                Porthos Jan 3, 2011 03:40 PM

                Pho Kimmy has been mentioned on these boards. It's an oilier broth and not necessarily more flavorful than Pho Thanh Lich so its not for me but I could see how some people would like it.

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                Pho Thanh Lich
                1036 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90813

                1. re: Searching4Dunny
                  Professor Salt Jan 3, 2011 03:40 PM

                  Pho Kimmy was nasty the one time I went. Tepid, thin, flavorless broth from a skeevy kitchen. I'm not one to shy from skeeve, either, but I'd put up with it if the food was worth it. Kimmy wasn't.

                  1. re: Searching4Dunny
                    Das Ubergeek Jan 3, 2011 07:55 PM

                    I was not impressed. I'm most impressed lately with Pho Quang Trung on Westminster east of Brookhurst. Once I convinced them that I was not some boneless skinless tasteless chicken breast eater and actually DID want tendon in my pho, I got a great bowl of pho.

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                    Pho Quang Trung
                    10072 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92843

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek
                      Searching4Dunny Jan 3, 2011 08:50 PM

                      excellent - thank you for the feedback!

                    2. re: Searching4Dunny
                      b
                      Bruce Kerr Feb 17, 2011 07:08 PM

                      Re Pho Kimmy - Sorry someone had a bad experience there. I've been a loyal customer of Kimmy for at least 7years (since she had her shop in Long Beach and found it to be consisently the best. Never greasy, always the richest flavor and the best meat and veggies. Maybe she wasn't in the kitchen that day. They seem to be the busiest pho restaurant in Little Saigon.

                    3. re: Porthos
                      ocshooter Feb 1, 2011 10:09 AM

                      A Vietnamese friend took me the Trieu Chau a few weeks back on a rainy, cold day. I had the duck soup. One word - Superb.

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                      Trieu Chau
                      4401 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                      1. re: ocshooter
                        Porthos Feb 1, 2011 10:15 AM

                        I have yet to try the duck soup. Literally I've had somewhere in the range of 15-20 bowls of the house special noodle soup and have yet to tire of it or had the willpower to try something else. It's good stuff.

                  2. re: Das Ubergeek
                    m
                    marblebag Feb 1, 2011 11:11 PM

                    I had the rare beef on the side experience at Pho Thanh Lich but I still like Nguyen Hue more. Where should I go for banh cuon, banh beo and bun rieu?

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                    Pho Thanh Lich
                    14500 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

                    1. re: marblebag
                      adamclyde Feb 2, 2011 05:40 AM

                      For Banh Cuon, I've been meaning to try Bahn Cuon Tay Ho on Bolsa, between Bushard and Magnolia. A vietnamese friend recommended it to me... said it's really good. Might be worth a visit...

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                      Tay Ho Restaurant
                      1039 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                      1. re: adamclyde
                        n
                        ns1 Feb 2, 2011 07:25 AM

                        nononononononnono

                        pho tau bay on first for banh cuon

                        go next door to favori for some baked catfish

                        tay ho is no competition.

                        1. re: ns1
                          adamclyde Feb 2, 2011 05:57 PM

                          good to know. I'll try pho tau bay first.

                      2. re: marblebag
                        Das Ubergeek Feb 2, 2011 07:52 AM

                        For banh beo (and banh it ram and banh khot), go to Ngu Binh on Magnolia. Bun rieu is available many places—I happen to like the bun rieu at Quan Hy, but I don't think they have periwinkles for bun rieu oc.

                        Banh Cuon Tay Ho is OK but Pho Tau Bay is better—and you'd never think to look there because you'd think it's a pho shop. If you do to go BCTH, the one on Bolsa is better than the one on Brookhurst.

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                        Ngu Binh Restaurant
                        14072 Magnolia St, Westminster, CA 92683

                        Quan Hy Restaurant
                        9727 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

                        Banh Cuon Tay Ho
                        9242 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek
                          Porthos Feb 2, 2011 09:19 AM

                          Vien dong has both bun rieu and bun rieu oc

                      3. re: Das Ubergeek
                        s
                        Sandra W Jul 10, 2011 03:14 PM

                        Vien Dong was a great recommendation. Had the bun cha ca Thang Long. FYI, it's catfish. It's now on my list of favorite dishes. Must go back. Thanks!

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                        Vien Dong
                        14271 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek
                          d
                          david t. Jul 10, 2011 07:20 PM

                          That's ridiculous. A 50c upcharge to have the beef on the side when practically every other restaurant in Little Saigon would do that free without question?

                          1. re: david t.
                            Das Ubergeek Jul 10, 2011 09:30 PM

                            You get more beef on the side plate than you do when it's dumped into the bowl, hence the upcharge.

                        2. j
                          josephnl Dec 31, 2010 03:20 PM

                          While Das Ubergeek's recommendations are undoubtedly the most authoritative for traditional Vietnamese restaurants, another place which is entirely different, but which we always enjoy, is S Vietnamese Fine Dining near Westminster Mall. This is a rather upscale (fancy), contemporary restaurant with some really delicious food and wonderful young servers. I love their sea bass and halibut preparations!

                          -----
                          S Vietnamese Fine Dining
                          545 Westminster Mall, Westminster, CA 92683

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: josephnl
                            Das Ubergeek Jan 2, 2011 08:38 PM

                            I concur on S for a nice fancy dinner out. My only beef with the place is the plethora of menus. There's the main menu, the vegetarian menu (a godsend in my family), the wine/beer menu and the tea menu. It gets cumbersome.

                            It's also quite expensive, but it's an occasion restaurant, not a dive.

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                              adamclyde Feb 13, 2011 09:33 PM

                              This place was the perfect restaurant this weekend. My birthday dinner, but being taken out by my very non adventurous parents. So it was the perfect mix between a place I really wanted to go to, and a place that my parents would still enjoy. I had some reservations of the place going in, but came out pleasantly surprised. "shaken" beef was very, very good. The cha gio was great (as was the whole starter sampler), and the sea bass was tender and flavorful... not much to complain about. It's a nice higher end place with a strong vietnamese influence.

                              It is about 3x more expensive than most of the Westminster places, but great for what it is.

                              1. re: adamclyde
                                j
                                josephnl Feb 14, 2011 11:03 AM

                                Really glad that you liked S! Of course you can get equal (or perhaps even better) Vietnamese food for less in Little Saigon, but for a special occasion, in a really nice restaurant, with great service, it's hard to beat S. I'm glad I recommended it!

                          2. b
                            Beach Chick Feb 1, 2011 10:05 AM

                            My Vietnamese manicurist suggested I drive up to the OC area of Garden Grove and try Brodard's at the Fortune Mall....Anyone been?
                            Thanks!

                            www.brodard.net

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: Beach Chick
                              ocshooter Feb 1, 2011 10:11 AM

                              Yep, very good and popular. Get there early. The easiest parking and entrance is from the back of the mall. I don't recall what I had, but I do recall that I liked it.

                              1. re: ocshooter
                                RWCFoodie Feb 13, 2011 06:10 PM

                                ocshooter: Have you ever tried the Goi Vit Quay salad at Brodard - Roast duck salad. We're actually planning to detour there on our way back from Spring Training because I want that salad again!

                                -----
                                Brodard Restaurant
                                9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                                1. re: RWCFoodie
                                  c
                                  catbert Feb 13, 2011 06:50 PM

                                  my family is partial to the chicken salad (usually they give lots of chicken) and beef salad (love the lemongrass sauce). they tend to skimp on the duck in the duck salad (same dressing as chicken salad btw), but at least it's boneless

                                  1. re: catbert
                                    RWCFoodie Feb 15, 2011 11:10 PM

                                    Thanks catbert: I'm such a sucker for duck - and as it was roast duck, I loved it! I see that it's still on their menu and am hoping that I can convince my DH that we must go there! Just have to figure out where to spend the night as we'll be in transit from Scottsdale back to the SF Bay Area... plus maybe an additional stopover in Santa Barbara too!

                                    1. re: catbert
                                      RWCFoodie May 15, 2011 03:01 PM

                                      catbert: unfortunately I believe you are right about the duck salad. We made our scheduled stop on the way home from Scottsdale (DH actually agreed to the detour, that doesn't happen easily...)

                                      We got there around 3:00 and while it was busy, we were seated immediately. Had the duck salad and the pork spring rolls. The salad was disappointing compared to what we had there several years ago. Much less duck and much fewer types of herbs. Serving was in general much smaller and not as attractively served. I now realize that I can make this salad without any problem. Easy access to roast duck and all of the salad herbs make it a no-brainer... Will make it soon when the weather warms.

                                      The pork spring rolls (nem nuong coun?), on the other hand, were fantastic! I realize that these are one of their signature dishes but I had forgotten just how great they are! Much better than any I've had elsewhere. While we were there, 3 people behind the counter spent the entire time making rolls. So delicious...

                                      So, bottom line, I realize now that we have great Vietnamese places much closer to home on the East side of San Jose. I haven't found the same type of nem nuong cuon there but I'm sure they're around. Just have to keep exploring!

                                2. re: Beach Chick
                                  Das Ubergeek Feb 1, 2011 10:14 AM

                                  Yes, many times. They're known for nem nuong cuon, but frankly I think they're a little better at Dat Thanh on McFadden just east of Brookhurst.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                    l
                                    lawdog262 Feb 1, 2011 02:10 PM

                                    Great thread! How about some clay pot recommendations, please?

                                    1. re: lawdog262
                                      n
                                      ns1 Feb 1, 2011 02:17 PM

                                      dong khan on bolsa, but the real winner there is the tamarind crab

                                      1. re: lawdog262
                                        m
                                        maiweezy Feb 16, 2011 11:17 PM

                                        Mirada in Fountain Valley. Really good ca kho to (catfish w/caramel sauce), just like my mom makes it.

                                        -----
                                        Mirada Restaurant
                                        9102 Edinger Ave, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

                                    2. re: Beach Chick
                                      w
                                      wrldtrvl May 15, 2011 12:54 AM

                                      We just went today for lunch. although we got there at 2 pm it was still very crowded and we had about a 20 minute wait. The food was excellent and so reasonably priced. My husband (and me too) fell in love with the tempura shrmp/sweet potato dish. Wow. I had the clay pot and found it very satisfying with an excellent sauce. We had the por spring rolls which they are famous for and they were also great. My husband also had the sugar cane shrimp bun (vermicelli noodles) and was very pleased. We both want to go back soon. We live in San diego so it will not be as often as we would like.

                                      -----
                                      Brodard Restaurant
                                      9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                                    3. boutmuet Feb 8, 2011 10:35 PM

                                      I am partial to Pho 79 (On Hazard Near Brookhurst) however I've never tried anything else other than the Pho.

                                      1. j
                                        JudiAU Feb 13, 2011 08:23 PM

                                        And go to Xanh another day. We had a wonderful lunch there last year.

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