Archive for the 'Bo 7 Mon' Category

Vietnam Restaurant – San Gabriel

Vietnam Restaurant - San Gabriel

When I go out for Vietnamese food these days, it’s almost always at the suggestion of  another (usually The Astronomer). The Vietnamese restaurants in Los Angeles are generally very good, but I’m often daunted by their hundred-item menus and super-sized portions. Rather than risk disappointment, I’ve decided to save my appetite for visits to grandma’s house and return visits to the motherland. The opportunities to indulge in my favorite cuisine may be infrequent, but at least it’s just the way I fancy it when I do.

Even though I don’t seek out Vietnamese restaurants, I find myself sitting at one about once a quarter. My most recent outing was initiated by my friend Craig. He was itching to try seven courses of beef (bò 7 món) and I was game to show him the ropes. Our party of three arrived at Vietnam Restaurant sometime past 8 PM on a Friday night. The stand-alone shack was packed with diners, and after a twenty minute wait, we scored a table by the window.

Vietnam Restaurant - San Gabriel

I started dinner off with nuoc xi muoi, a salted plum drink served over ice. It was an impulsive choice that turned out to be an absolutely delightful punch of salty, sour, and sweet. I ordered another soon after I polished off the first glass.

Vietnam Restaurant - San Gabriel

Before the onslaught of red meat began, I chose two light bites to start. The first to arrive was bánh bèo. The steamed rice cakes were topped with mung bean paste, scallion oil, and fluorescent orange shrimp dust. Not to worry, the shrimp’s hue was the result of natural coloring.

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Saigon Restaurant – San Diego

July 20, 2007
Cuisine: Vietnamese

4455 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92115

Phone: 619-284-4215
Website: none

Appetizer: Bò Bía – stir fried jimica and carrots, Chinese sausage, shredded scrambled eggs, all wrapped in a rice paper roll and dipped into a peanut sauce ($3.50)

Banh Tam Bi – rice noodles with shredded pork, vegetable, & coconut milk ($6.75)

Bò 7 Món – Seven Courses of Beef

Course I: Bo Nuong Vi – lemon grass and sesame marinated beef cooked on a hot plate with butter

Course II: Bò Nhúng Dấm / Beef Fondue – slices of Tenderloin fondue at your table in a simmering vinegar sauce

Course III: Bo Cha Dum – steamed Beef Meat Balls
Course IV: Bo La Nho – beef wrapped in grape leaves
Course V: Bo Moi Chai – grilled Beef Sausages
Course VI: Bo La Lot – beef Wrapped in Wild Betel Leaf

Course VII: Chao Bo / Beef Rice Soup – a rich flavorful beef rice soup

During my last weekend in America, my brother and his main squeeze came to San Diego for a brief visit. On his first evening in America’s Finest City, he was aching for some beef—seven whole courses of it. My family usually goes to Anh Hong Pho Pasteur in Clairemont for bò 7 món, but Cousin Phil suggested we try Saigon Restaurant due to a favorable review from his dad. Unfortunately, his dad forgot to mention that service was terrible at this restaurant. I guess we’ll just have to stick with our old stand by Anh Hong from here on out for good eats and prompt service.

While my dining companions enjoyed bò 7 món ($16.99—for two), I decided to order bo bia and banh tam bi instead. Seven courses of beef is six courses too many for a vegetarian-leaning, sprout-loving gal like me. The bo bia, like most of the food at Saigon Restaurant, were huge; perhaps twice the size of average spring rolls. I’m usually against super-sizing, but I may make an exception for Vietnamese treats. The extra-fatty rolls were stuffed with an abundance of carrots and jicama. Sadly, the disproportionate amount of vegetables to protein over powered the Chinese sausage and scrambled egg.

For my main entrée, I wanted to try a new dish. My mom suggested banh tam bi. Banh tam bi is reminiscent of classic vermicelli noodle dishes (bun), but with an unexpected sweetness. The coconut milk sauce in combination with nouc mam is what makes this offering extra special. I really enjoyed this selection and will be on the look out for it in Vietnam.

Even though I don’t like all seven courses of beef, there are a few that I am awfully fond of. The bo la nho is nutty and delicious and the final soup brings back fond memories of nursing childhood colds with a bowl of hot porridge.

Saigon on Urbanspoon

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