Monday, November 07, 2005


On the rare occasion I can be coaxed out of leaving the OC and venturing up to LA. Danielle got me all the way to San Gabriel by enticing me with an invite to meet Lela Lee on Saturday night.

So "on the way" up we went to San Gabriel to check out Danielle's favorite Vietnamese restaurant-- called VietNam House. Heh. The funny part of this, that like the New Ho Tay restaurant, Danielle was telling me about all the drama involving this restaurant and then a "sister" restaurant and family drama, etc. Fuh-nee.

I am such a picky eater sometimes, so I let Danielle order in order to make sure I was getting some new tastes on my palette. Her selection: cha gio, bun thit nuong, and hu tieu tom thit.

The cha gio needs no explanation, I want to try these at every Vietnamese restaurant I go to. These were good. Plain and simple, the best I have had since my mommy's. My only complaint-- and this is a personal preference, really-- is that they go pretty heavy on the mushrooms in these cha gio. I grew up with out them in mine, so it's just that, really. Really crispy, full of fresh fillings. I haven't acquired a palette sophisticated enough to really tell the difference between the nuoc cham at the restaurants that we go to, but Danielle can and she says that Vietnam House's is the best, closest to homemade. I'll take her word for it.

We ordered a bowl of the bun thit nuong again. This was good, but to me it looked better than it tasted. It came atop with green onions and peanuts (I LOVE peanuts in Vietnamese food). I am forever spoiled by Brodard it seems, nothing compares to me.

However, the soup we got-- hu tieu tom thit, now that was delicious. When I go back to VietNam House, I will order this again. Danielle was explaining it to me in the car:

Danielle: They have noodles in it that are clear and chewy.
Me: Chewy? Oh... I don't know if I like the way that sounds.
Danielle: Well, not too chewy, sorta like boba.
Me: I hate boba!

They were yummy though. Actually, the stock was what made it. The soup could have been made with the thin rice vermicilli noodles or ramen and it still would have been awesome. Leafy greens, hearty shrimp, and clear noodles were submerged in this really tasty broth. I don't know how to really describe it. It was sorta like a chicken stock-- but had a lot more depth to it.

Ok this is from LA Weekly, and no, I didn't get the seven courses of beef. But there is always next time... oh and they got some delish' fresh lemonade there...

Vietnam House: Almost as a public service, Vietnam House prepares bo bay mon, the fabled Vietnamese seven-course beef dinner. The dinner is a well-worn ritual, honed in country restaurants before the war and served in an unbending succession of courses whose composition probably hasn't changed in 30 years: sliced raw beef that you cook at the table by swishing it for a few seconds in a pot of vinegar broth boiling merrily on a brazier; steamed pate studded with clear noodles and served with shrimp chips; gristly grilled meatballs; tightly rolled slivers of steak; charred beef tucked inside vaguely narcotic la lot leaves; marinated beef salad; beef porridge. This is food that was made for beer. 710 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, (626) 282-6327. Lunch and dinner Mon., Wed., Thurs. 10 a.m.- 9 p.m., Fri - Sun. till 10 p.m. Beer only. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $14 - $24. Vietnamese.

(From left to right, myself, Lela & Danielle.)


At November 09, 2005 9:32 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Excellent post Kimberly. It's interesting to think that discerning palates like Danielle's can distinguish the differences between each restaurant's nouc cham. It goes the same I suppose for Indonesian dishes for me. It's all depends on what we grew up with.

At November 09, 2005 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kimberly, aside from your post on Brodard, this is the best one! Seriously, next step is the 7 courses of beef. You simply must try it. You know me, I am game for Viet food anytime! And, a shout out to elmomonster for saying I have a discerning palate. I agree that it all depends on how we grew up eating the nouc mam/chum. My bro-in-law likes it really sweet, my uncle likes it really salty, whereas I am used to it being a little more on the sweet and tangy side. I look foreard to more posts, K! :)

At November 09, 2005 11:45 AM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Thank you elmomonster and danielle for 'de compliments on 'de post.

Danielle, I want some beef with lemongrass, is that in the 7 courses?

At November 09, 2005 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is an item that is not usually included in the 7 courses of beef that has lemongrass and garlic and you "fry" it over a hot plate, sort of like a hibachi. This dish is sometimes substituted for the first course in 7 courses of beef, which is the raw beef slices that you swish in a vinegar broth. Vietnam House has it, as does other 7 courses of beef restos. There is Anh Hong in Garden Grove, in the same complex as New Ho Tai. They also have an Anh Hong in San Gabriel, and then there is Vietnam House. Wanna go this weekend? :)

At November 14, 2005 12:42 AM, Blogger e d b m said...

Kimberly, give Vietnam House's other restaurant (across the street!), Golden Deli, a shot. It's my favorite place for pho. VH & GD have the best cha gio i've ever had b/c of the crispy wrapper skin. Nice posting.

At November 15, 2005 6:20 PM, Blogger MEalCentric said...

Is that the sour plum soda drink I spy in the back of the pciture? Man, that thing is addictive.

At November 16, 2005 7:31 AM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Nah, no plum soda, however I will make note to try that. It's only lemonade, but it's really good. I don't know why it tastes so different in Vietnamese restaurants compared to American restaurants.

At November 16, 2005 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not simply lemonade, Kimberly. It's soda lemonade! Remind me to make it for you at home..:) And, the sour plum soda drink that mealcentric mentions is very close to what we had. In the latter, they add a salty-sour preserved plum to the mix, so you get this salty/sweet lemonade soda with a preserved plum that breaks down inside the drink. Sounds icky, but it's actually really good!


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