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Vietnamese in Orange County (specific dishes)

SafaS Dec 3, 2011 04:29 PM

I have moved from Seattle, where I use to get excellent Vietnamese food. Now that I am next door to Westminster I figure that I should get really good Vietnamese food here... hopefully, even better.
I am looking for places that serve the best:

1) Banh beo - rice cake with shrimp
2) Chao Tom - Shrimp on sugar cane
3) Grilled Catfish - I want either baked or grilled (none of the fried variety. I was really disappointed with the one at Favori)
4) Vegetarian Pho - I used to go to this place in Seattle called Than Brothers and they served it with fried tofu and mushrooms. It was amazing.
5) Specialty Gỏi cuốn - I used to get amazing ones at the Tamarind Tree. They were stuffed with herbs, fried tofu, roasted peanut, fresh coconut, jicama, and carrots. I am not a big fan of the rolls stuffed with simply lettuce, noodles and meat.

I know I am being specific... but I am seriously craving this food and any help/suggestions would be much appreciated!

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  1. Professor Salt RE: SafaS Dec 3, 2011 05:06 PM

    1) Ngu Binh 14072 Magnolia St Ste 116 Westminster. They expanded into this current, bigger location earlier this year. Along with the bigger space is a larger menu of central Viet specialites, which you should also try.

    4) There is place in Anaheim called Thuyen Vien with prominent signage for vegetarian pho. I haven't tried it, so can't vouch for it. Not so many places offer vegetarian pho to my knowledge, but then, it's off my radar otherwise, as a non-vegetarian.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Professor Salt
      choctastic RE: Professor Salt Jan 22, 2012 09:14 PM

      I personally think the vegetarian (actually vegan) pho at the Orange branch of the Loving Hut chain is better than Thuyen Vien's. TV's used to be great, but now that the wife is in the kitchen, I personally do not think it's as good as when the husband was cooking. My personal opinion is that the food in general is not as good, for this reason, not just the pho. Just my $.02, others will disagree.

      Also, in Huntington Beach, there's this vegan Viet place called Mitasie 3 in a dingy strip mall, off Beach. They have the best vegan chicken pho I have had so far, though they do put in a ton of noodles, which I don't like. Overall, great. The barbecue pork rolls are overrated imho, but many yelpers are big fans of those things.

      If you're in El Monte, there's several very, very good vegan Vietnamese places. I ate at an unnamed one that I really liked and I'll have to review one of these days, if I can ever figure out what it's called.

    2. Das Ubergeek RE: SafaS Dec 3, 2011 09:27 PM

      1. Ngu Binh or Quan Hy.

      2. and 3. Vien Dong on Brookhurst.

      4. Bo De Tinh Tam Chay on Bolsa.

      5. Can't help specifically but try the vegetarian places like #4 above, Au Lac, Thuyen Vien. Maybe S Vietnamese?

      6 Replies
      1. re: Das Ubergeek
        ns1 RE: Das Ubergeek Dec 7, 2011 05:08 PM

        vegetarian pho is a bit of an oxy moron

        1. re: ns1
          mikeinla10 RE: ns1 Dec 7, 2011 06:59 PM

          Agreed. And very funny comment.

          1. re: ns1
            attran99 RE: ns1 Dec 8, 2011 09:09 PM

            I heartily agree.

            1. re: attran99
              choctastic RE: attran99 Jan 22, 2012 09:22 PM

              Shows what you guys know. After trying vegan pho all over the place, I've come to the conclusion that the only thing I really wish I could have is the raw beef cooking in the hot liquid. But I recall many times when I was a meat-eater when the broth was insipid and the meat...questionable.

              Vinh Loi Tofu is this place in Reseda that changed my mind about vegan Vietnamese food, and vegan food in general. The banh mi at that place really rocks, and the pho was pretty damn good.

              Right now, I'm a fan of the viet food at the Orange branch of Loving Hut.

          2. re: Das Ubergeek
            adamclyde RE: Das Ubergeek Dec 8, 2011 01:57 PM

            There's a vegetarian Vietnamese place (I haven't been to btw) on Bolsa... I think it's Zen Vietnamese? Again, not sure if it is good or not.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek
              choctastic RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 31, 2012 11:42 AM

              I agree wtih you on #3. Finally got my butt to this location and wow, I feel like an idiot. How did I miss this place all these miserable years?

            2. a
              attran99 RE: SafaS Dec 3, 2011 09:53 PM

              Can I try to convince you on the fried catfish at Hong An and/or Thein An in Garden Grove? The skin is super crispy, and the flesh literally melts in your mouth the minute it hits your tongue.
              As for the rest of your questions, go with Das Ubergeek...those are the places my family orders from when they don't feel like making the dishes themselves.
              With regards to vegetarian pho...I've never heard of such a thing and wonder how someone could possibly derive the same amazingly balanced broth without the aid of protein bones.

              1 Reply
              1. re: attran99
                catbert RE: attran99 Dec 7, 2011 05:07 PM

                i can't say positively for sure, but i believe the vegetarian broth relies on mushroom broth...

              2. m
                maiweezy RE: SafaS Dec 4, 2011 05:39 PM

                1) Quan Hy. They're the only place that makes them thin enough for me. Ngu Binh is a little on the thicker side but I really love their banh uot.
                2) Com Tam Thuan Kieu
                3) Restaurant Royal Seafood but call to see if they're open, I keep forgetting which day they are closed. I too was very disappointed in Favori.
                5) They don't have specialty goi cuon but Dat Thanh has really excellent goi cuon nem nuong. I don't like their chao tom but the nem nuong is really good, better than Brodard.

                2 Replies
                1. re: maiweezy
                  SafaS RE: maiweezy Dec 14, 2011 12:30 PM

                  Royal Seafood Restaurant was just what I was looking for in a grilled catfish Vietnamese style. It was perfect. Plus the service was surprisingly good. Thanks for the suggestion.

                  Royal Seafood Restaurant
                  12342 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92840

                  1. re: SafaS
                    maiweezy RE: SafaS Jan 16, 2012 12:50 PM

                    So happy you liked it. The owner has another restaurant, Phuong's, on Taft and Westminster, in a shopping plaza (it's a little hard to see), which has more regular hours and no special events (so no bad Viet singing to enjoy / not enjoy while you eat!). For some reason, even though it's the same recipe and same owner, it doesn't seem to turn out as well, but it's still very good, and nice because they have regular hours.

                    Phuong's Restaurant
                    10722 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92843

                2. s
                  SafaS RE: SafaS Dec 5, 2011 10:18 AM

                  Thank you Professor Salt, Das Ubergeek, attran99 and maiweezy for all of your suggestions! I will post back after I have tried some of these restaurants. I am sure you guys have saved me a lot of money and disappointment!

                  1. c
                    catbert RE: SafaS Dec 7, 2011 05:05 PM

                    if i may comment...

                    3. honestly, i don't know when it comes to OC, but if you ever travel out to SG, try phong dinh. theirs is not crispy fried

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: catbert
                      SafaS RE: catbert Dec 8, 2011 06:38 PM


                    2. j
                      jaykayen RE: SafaS Dec 10, 2011 11:02 AM

                      3) Turmeric catfish with bun at Ha Noi Avenue, on Westmister, west of Newland.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jaykayen
                        choctastic RE: jaykayen Jan 22, 2012 09:17 PM

                        I remember this dish back in my meat-eating days. Ha Noi's was great.

                      2. b
                        bsquared2 RE: SafaS Dec 13, 2011 10:38 PM

                        Quan Hy has the best rice cakes. Even when I go to VN, it's hard to match their's.

                        Dat Thanh for spring rolls. No coconut, jicama etc. Just pure pork goodness.

                        There are plenty of VN vegetarian restaurants. I don't know about Vegetarian Pho. Maybe you just want a good vegetarian noodle soup.

                        1. junglekitte RE: SafaS Jan 19, 2012 02:27 AM

                          My brother RAVES about Thuyen Vien in Anaheim for vegan Vietnamese food, but I haven't tried it yet.

                          Brodard has the best chao tom spring rolls I've ever had. The rolls and the sauce keep me driving all the way there just to order that (and a packet to take home!)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: junglekitte
                            choctastic RE: junglekitte Jan 22, 2012 09:18 PM

                            Thuyen Vien has a vegetarian version of the dilled "fish" dish on a sizzling platter. It's vegetarian, but might not be vegan. I believe this item is marked on the menu as not being vegan, but I could be misremembering.

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