Archive for the 'Vietnamese' Category

Kim Hoa Hue Restaurant – El Monte

Kim Hoa Hue Restaurant - El Monte - Los Angeles

Even with an endless parade of new restaurant openings in Los Angeles, my current obsession is an unassuming eight-year-old Vietnamese spot in El Monte. My friend Thien introduced me to Kim Hoa Hue Restaurant a few weeks ago, and I’ve already been back three times since. This place is really something dac biet.

Kim Hoa Hue Restaurant - El Monte - Los Angeles

Whereas most Vietnamese restaurants in town serve a menu of the country’s greatest hits, like pho, bun, and the like, Kim Hoa Hue specializes in Central Vietnamese fare, specifically the cuisine from Hue. As Vietnam’s former imperial capital, Hue is renowned for its sophisticated cuisine, developed by the cooks of the royal court.

Kim Hoa Hue Restaurant - El Monte - Los Angeles

On each of my visits here, my dining companions and I feasted like kings. Never missing from our spread was the Hue Combo ($6.25), a sample platter of delicate delights: banh beo (steamed rice cakes topped with shrimp and cracklins), banh nam (rice cakes embedded with shrimp and steamed in banana leaves), banh bot loc (shrimp and pork dumplings), cha (steamed pork forcemeat), and banh uot tom chay (rice sheets stuffed with minced shrimp).

While my mother and grandmother were particularly fond of the banh beo during our lunch, it’s impossible for me to choose a favorite—winners all around, I say.

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{swoon} Vietnamese Chè at Bambu

Chè sương sáo hạt lựu - Bambu - San Gabriel

I admit that chè, a genre of Vietnamese desserts that brings together an unlikely collection of ingredients including legumes, jellies, tapioca, and coconut milk, isn’t for everyone, but if you believe in the power of seaweed in your sweets, you’re really gonna dig Bambu.

After getting a tip from my food-savvy NorCal cousins (Thanks, M&M!) about this San Jose-based chain, I had to check it out for myself. Chè for the people? Sign me up!

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{swoon} Chả Giò Tôm Cua at Bến Lạ Restaurant

Ben La - Westminster | Best Cha Gio

While researching Little Saigon’s choicest quan nhau (watering holes) this past weekend, I tasted the very best cha gio I’ve had since living in and traveling throughout Vietnam at Bến Lạ Restaurant.

Stuffed plump with crab, shrimp, and pork, then deep-fried twice for maximum blistering, these rolls induced swoons from everyone at the table. Even when tightly wrapped in lettuce and herbs and dunked with abandon in chili-spiked nuoc cham, the cha gio remained unbeatably crisp, the translucent rice paper wrappers shattering with each bite.

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Cafe Artist – Garden Grove

Cafe Artist Restaurant - Garden Grove

I’ve been thinking a lot about Pok Pok’s Vietnamese fish sauce wings since my trip to Portland last fall. The perfect marriage of crispy chicken and potent nuoc mam, these unforgettable wings left my fingers sticky, my lips lacquered, and my stomach craving more

Since jetting off to The Beaver State whenever a hankering hits isn’t very practical, I am on a mission to find a local source for similarly delectable wings. First stop: Cafe Artist in Orange County. This spot came recommended to me by Anh, a Gastronomy reader.

Cafe Artist Restaurant - Garden Grove

Located in the same Little Saigon strip mall as Vien Dong restaurant, Cafe Artist is one of the most popular quan nhau (watering holes) in the neighborhood. The place opens at 1:30 PM and stays bumpin’ till late.

The Astronomer and I, along with my friend Anne, came in for lunch and snagged a table on the patio. I’d heard that it gets loud and smokey once the regular crowd files in, so I was quite pleased that we had the place to ourselves at this hour.

Cafe Artist Restaurant - Garden Grove

We ordered five dishes between the three of us and managed to finish them all. First up was a hefty platter of oc len xao dua ($11.99), cockles sea snails simmered in an irresistible lemongrass, red curry, and coconut broth.

As instructed by our waitress, we sucked with all our might to release the cockles from their shells. Mmm! Bowls of steamed rice were requested to make good use of the fabulous broth.

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