The Astronomer, June, and I lunched at Garden Grove’s perpetually packed Ốc & Lẩu while in the neighborhood visiting the newest member of our family: Baby Leo.
We don’t get around to Little Saigon nearly often enough, so when we do sit down for a meal in this Vietnamese culinary paradise, The Astronomer and I tend to order too much food out of giddy enthusiasm.
Many moons ago when The Astronomer and I called Vietnam home, we’d dine at seafood shacks once the sun set over Saigon. The food was always terrific at these informal sidewalk establishments, and the local crowds were welcoming and up for a good time.
The flavors at Ốc & Lẩu brought us back to Vietnam, but the polished environs were purely Little Saigon.
To start, a most refreshing passion fruit soda ($4.99) for our little lady. We might have to order an entire pitcher of this sparkly and sour beverage on our next visit.
The goi xoai dac biet va oc ($11.99) came highly recommended by my aunt Phuong. The flavor and texture of the unripened mangoes was pleasantly tart and even snappy. Primed to take on savory flourishes, the mangoes were treated to fish sauce, chiles, torn coriander, and best of all, thinly sliced snails. This gorgeously balanced salad was the best dish of the afternoon.
Next on deck was the so diep nuong trung ca ($14.50), plump and perfectly grilled scallops topped with crushed peanuts, crispy shallots, fish roe, and scallions.
Leading the buttery charge was the oc huong nuong bo toi ($10.99), butter- and garlic-roasted sea snails. Served on the side for dipping was one of the greatest condiments of all time: ginger fish sauce. Heaven!
A Vietnamese seafood party isn’t complete without cua lot rang me ($14.50), soft-shell crabs glazed in a tamarind sauce. Mmm…
And lastly, a plate of mi xao hai san ($11.50), stir-fried noodles with squid, shrimp, and plenty of vegetables. Every strand slicked our lips with oily goodness in the very best way.
Lunch at Ốc & Lẩu was as good as we had hoped. Here’s to more Little Saigon food adventures in 2020.
Ốc & Lẩu
10130 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92843
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Two years ago: Tartine Manufactory – San Francisco
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