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Dat Thanh – Revelatory Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty Spring Rolls) and Great Com Tam (Broken Rice) in Little Saigon

l
Lau Aug 28, 2011 05:01 PM

**For full post and pics**: http://www.lauhound.com/2011/08/dat-t...

Dat Thanh is a nem nuong and com tam specialist. Nem nuong is a type of Vietnamese spring roll that is made up of a grilled long and thin minced pork patty that is wrapped in rice paper wrapper with vegetables and fried crispy bits of wrappers. If you ask around about nem nuong you usually hear about Brodard Restaurant who is famous for it. However, I heard about Dat Thanh and decided to give it a try and I’m glad I did.

Dat Thanh is located in a small non-descript strip mall in Little Saigon. The restaurant is tiny and probably can sit about 15-16 people max. It is new looking and is probably one of the cleanest restaurants I’ve been to in Little Saigon. There is an open air kitchen where you can see them cooking although there’s not much to see as it’s really a two man operation with the owner working the cash register and dealing with customers and his father cooking in back.

I spoke with the owner who is a Vietnamese-American guy who worked a bunch of different restaurants such as Fleming’s Steakhouse in Newport Beach. His family had been in the restaurant business before and he decided he wanted to go back to his roots and open a Vietnamese restaurant. He’s quite nice and talkative; he seems to take a lot of pride in the quality of his food, which I obviously appreciate a lot.

Here’s what we got:
- Nem Nuong Cuon (Grilled Pork Patty Spring Roll): While Brodard’s version is quite good Dat Thanh’s version takes it up a notch. Dat Thahn’s nem nuong was revelatory for me. It was similar experience to my reaction to the banh cuon at Pho Tau Bay which completely changed my view of that dish. While I previously liked nem nuong cuon, but didn’t think it was amazing. Here I thought it was amazing. The rice wrapper was very fresh and you could tell it hadn’t been pre-wrapped and rather was wrapped to order; the wrapper is thinner and much better than the one at Brodard. The vegetables (lettuce, mint leaf and green onion) were all fresh and great tasting. The nem nuong was juicy and flavorful and I thought stood out against Brodard’s version. The crispy pieces of fried wrapper inside the roll gave it a great crispy texture that contrasts well with the meat, wrapper and vegetables. The sauce is similar to Brodard although I do think Brodard’s version is slightly better as I thought it was a bit too sweet, but the nem nuong cuon itself is much better here. Overall, this was so good. I actually took my mom here the following weekend because I thought it was so good, she thought it was amazing as well. Fyi, for me I use the sauce for half of the roll and then I use chili paste and nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce) for the other half of the roll. I think you’ll find that if you try it with one sauce and then with another the flavor is quite a bit different. 9/10
- Chao Tom Cuon (Grilled Shrimp Patty Spring Roll): I got the combination so I could try both the nem nuong (pork patty) and chao tom (shrimp patty). This was exactly the same except with the shrimp patty. This version was very good as well although I prefer the nem nuong as it’s more flavorful. 8/10
- Com Tam Pork Chop Combo: I got the pork chop combination which included shrimp cake wrapped in fried tofu skin, pork chop, shrimps on a skewer, bi (shredded pork, pork skin with rice powder) and a steamed egg omelet. First, com tam (broken rice) is fractured grains of rice (which I believe were discarded back in the day and used by poor peasants), so the grains of rice are very short and have a dryer consistency that is different than most rice that I really like (hard to explain, but you’ll like it). The rice here was even better than my gold standard Com Tam Tran Qui Cap, which has been my go to for com tam. The consistency was really nice and the owner told me he thinks very few places get their com tam right because they don’t take the time to cook it correctly. The shrimp cake wrapped in fried tofu skin was nicely freshly fried and had good flavor although I do think that Com Tam Tran Qui Cap’s version is better. The version here was more spongy and rubbery and although it was still good CTTQC’s version is stunning. The pork chop was good; it was tender and flavorful and was on par with CTTQC’s version. The shrimps on a skewer were also nicely flavored and tender on par with CTTQC’s version. The bi (shredded pork, pork skin with rice powder) was by far the best version I’ve ever had because normally I think of it as an after-thought, but the flavor and the texture from the rice powder was really good, the owner told me it’s because they make their own rice powder for the dish whereas most other places use pre-bought stuff. The steamed omelet was good as well and was more flavorful than other places. This was excellent; I really enjoyed their com tam as well. 8.5/10
- Com Tam Short Rib Combo: This was the same except with a short rib that tasted fairly similar to Korean kalbi. The short rib was tender and flavorful and I thought it was on par with CTTQC’s version. 8.5/10
- Iced Vietnamese Coffee: This was typical iced Vietnamese coffee, but it was pretty good. It wasn’t too bitter or too sweet. 7.75/10
- Soda Chanh: Soda chanh is soda water, lime and sugar. It’s really refreshing and the version here was one of the best versions I’ve had in Little Saigon as it wasn’t too sweet and had enough lime where you could really taste it. 8.5/10

Overall, this is one of the best restaurants I’ve found in Little Saigon. I highly recommend coming here.

  1. p
    pharmnerd Sep 5, 2011 07:55 PM

    Owners from San Jose, CA? There's a similarly named restaurant there, that's still one of my faves even compared to places in So Cal. I don't think they're known for the rolls though.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pharmnerd
      l
      Lau Sep 6, 2011 07:36 AM

      i dont think so, i think they're from orange county in little saigon area.

      1. re: Lau
        p
        pharmnerd Sep 7, 2011 08:48 PM

        Ok, thanks. Will try this place asap.

        1. re: pharmnerd
          l
          Lau Sep 8, 2011 06:06 AM

          yah its delicious, def worth trying

    2. adamclyde Sep 4, 2011 09:53 AM

      Where is this place? Google isn't assisting me.

      BTW, ever tried the Nem Nuong at Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa on Westminster Blvd (not far from Brookhurst). Amazing. I liked it better than Brodard's, and I like Brodard's quite a bit.

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

      2 Replies
      1. re: adamclyde
        l
        Lau Sep 4, 2011 10:38 AM

        the address is on my blog

        i've been meaning to try nem nuong khanh hoa, its on my list, but i havent been yet

        1. re: Lau
          adamclyde Sep 4, 2011 09:34 PM

          OK, but for the sake of the Chowhound community, let's put it here:

          Dat Thanh
          10032 Mcfadden Ave
          Westminster, CA 92683
          (714) 650-0910

          Give Khanh Hoa a try. Very good.

          -----
          Dat Thanh
          10032 McFadden Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

      2. c
        catbert Aug 31, 2011 09:22 PM

        this is the place that was featured in the l.a. times and oc weekly (with invite for a nem challenge) late last year right? i'm trying to get places sorted in my head...

        looks yummy btw. great report.

        5 Replies
        1. re: catbert
          l
          Lau Aug 31, 2011 11:11 PM

          hmm i dont know, its possible i think they had some news clippings on their wall, i live in NY now so i dont know whats going on in the local papers anymore....just try to eat as much good food as possible when im how

          1. re: catbert
            hppzz Sep 1, 2011 10:40 AM

            yes, it was. personally still think brodards is better, including the sauce. but also almost as good as brodards is the nem nuong at com tam thuan kieu at magnoilia/brookhurst. in the abc plaza.

            1. re: hppzz
              l
              Lau Sep 1, 2011 11:46 AM

              really? i thought dat thanh was much better although i agree brodard's sauce is better. i also think brodard's are pre-wrapped and don't taste as fresh (although they're still very good) and i like the actual nem nuong better at dat thanh, but its food and taste is totally subjective and given how popular brodard im sure there are alot of people who would agree with u.

              yah i saw that they have at com tam thuan kieu last time i ate there, but it was just me eating there so i couldnt take down one of their huge com tam plates + an order of nem nuong cuon too. I'll try it next time i go to com tam thuan kieu.

              1. re: Lau
                c
                catbert Sep 3, 2011 02:29 PM

                pre-wrapped as in the rolls already wrapped? cause i like to watch the assembly line of workers wrapping the nem rolls by the register. on the days they're really crowded and busy they're non-stop! i personally don't care for the veg that's inside. it's like those fresh express salad bag stuff.

                1. re: catbert
                  l
                  Lau Sep 4, 2011 08:15 AM

                  yah i mean i think that they sort of have the winner thing going on whereby if u go when its busy they're making them and then sending them out so they're fresh, but i feel like most of the time when ive been there they were wrapped earlier where as at dat thanh i know everything was cooked and given to me exactly when i ordered it (b/c i saw it).

                  i think both are good btw, i just think dat thanh's is better. i think my mom was a good judge of it b/c she'd never read anything or knew anything about either place (i.e. no bias whatsoever) and while she liked it at brodard, she loved it at dat thanh

          2. c
            Chandavkl Aug 28, 2011 06:11 PM

            Thanks for the report. Does this mean you missed the hurricane?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chandavkl
              l
              Lau Aug 28, 2011 06:20 PM

              haha no im in NY, but ive been back home to CA 3 times this summer, so ive got a bunch of CA posts i need to post about (actually a ton of NY posts too; been cleaning up lauhound a little bit, categories section has been cleaned up to make it easier to navigate, moving it to a faster server soon etc)

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