As a Featured Publisher for Foodbuzz, we were eligible to submit a proposal of a unique meal that we will capture and post to share with the world. Foodbuzz then selects 24 entries and provide the winners with $250 to help make the proposal happen. All 24 dinner entries will be held on the same day, thus the term: 24 (meals), 24 (hours), 24 (posts).
We were delighted when we were chosen for this month’s Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event! Our proposal was to spend an entire day in Little Saigon and try all of the popular Vietnamese dishes at different restaurants. Little Saigon is the largest Vietnamese community in the world (other than Vietnam, of course) that is situated in bordering cities of Westminster and Garden Grove, in Southern California. We were able to invite a few non-Vietnamese friends on our journey so they can experience the different Vietnamese cuisines. We captured photos of all the meals we had, as well as provided the information of the restaurant so that our readers will know where to go if they want to experience something different.
We had a great time sharing Vietnamese food in Little Saigon, even though we were all stuffed beyond imagination. Thank you, Foodbuzz, for sponsoring our event!
Brodard Restaurant has become a favorite eatery in Little Saigon, serving a wide variety of mainstream Vietnamese food. Without a doubt, their specialty is the Pork Spring Rolls (Nem Nuong Cuon), which is grilled pork paste wrapped in rice paper with lettuce, cucumber, carrots, daikon, mint, and served with house special sauce. Also shown here is the Shrimp Spring Roll, which is the same except it's grilled shrimp paste. We would have to say this is definitely a crowd pleaser!
Quan Hy is a Central Vietnamese Restaurant that caters to a younger, hipper crowd. The ambiance is modern with nice bamboo decor. We chose to go here because we love this appetizer: Banh Beo, which is steamed rice-cakes with shredded shrimp and fried caramelized onions. The middle of this presentation is the fish sauce which can be drizzled on top before eating. Our friends loved it, so we would definitely recommend trying this!
This next dish is considered the national dish of Vietnam, which originated from North Vietnam. Pho, which is a beef noodle soup, is the most well-known Vietnamese dish because of it's overwhelming popularity in the western hemisphere. Pho restaurants are everywhere in Little Saigon, so it was actually hard to choose which restaurant to go to. Alas, we chose to dine at Pho 79, which is located inside the Asian Garden Mall (Phuoc Loc Tho). It is, hands-down, a favorite comfort food within our community.
Favori Restaurant is located on the outskirts of Little Saigon in Santa Ana. It specializes in French & Vietnamese cuisines. For those unaware, Vietnam was colonized by the French in the 19th Century, so a lot of what we eat today was influenced by the French. This dish shown here is known as Bo Luc Lac, which translates to Shaking Beef. It is wok-fried cubed filet mignon with rice. Favori does not specialize in this dish, but we wanted to get something that was French-inspired. You may want to try the Baked Catfish which is Favori's specialty.
The biggest staple in Vietnamese food has to be rice - and they surely know how to eat it in many many ways. Here, we present another classic dish: Banh Cuon which is best known at Banh Cuon Tay Ho Restaurant. It is a small hole-in-the-wall that sure knows how to please its customers. There are so many layers of goodness: Rice flour sheet roll with ground pork, shrimp tempura, bean sprouts, fresh herbs, and sliced pork sausage. When you're sick of eating rice or vermicelli, try this one out!
One of the most famous dishes that originated from Central Vietnam is the Bun Bo Hue. It's a soup dish that combines spicy beef and pork with vermicelli, herbs, and thinly sliced banana blossoms. The broth is completely different from Pho because of the large variety of different spices which includes lemon grass and chili. We shared this bowl at Huong Giang Restaurant which is known for their Central Vietnamese cuisines.
Perhaps com tam, also known as broken rice, is one of the more popular rice dishes in the Vietnamese community. In fact, in almost all of the Vietnamese restaurants, this broken rice dish will most likely be on the menu. It's just one of those classic dishes that many restaurants are able to offer. Shown here is the Com Tam Tau Hu Ky, Tom, Suon, Bi, Cha which translates to broken rice with shrimp cake, grilled shrimp, BBQ pork chops, shredded pork skin, and steamed pork and egg custard. Yeah, it's a mouthful! My friend Sarah recommended the restaurant we went to which is Com Tam Tran Qui Cap, in the heart of Little Saigon. It's definitely a meal that will not leave you hungry!
Another popular Northern Vietnamese dish would have to be Bun Cha Ha Noi. This dish here is probably one of my favorites because the flavors of the barbecued pork patty is delicious, which balances well with the vermicelli, fresh herbs, and pickled daikon. We chose to eat this at Ha Noi Restaurant, which obviously specializes in this dish among other northern Vietnamese cuisines.
Banh xeo is a Vietnamese-style crepe (or pancake) that is stuffed with pork, shrimp, and a ton of bean sprouts. The banh xeo from Southern Vietnam is normally the size of a large plate and yellow in color (as shown). It's eaten with a lot of fresh herbs and dipped into a sweet and sour fish sauce. My mom loves making these - I would even have to say it's her specialty! We actually ate this at Van Restaurant, which is known for making the banh xeo.
I would'nt say that I'm a fan of Hu Tieu, which is the large noodle soup with shrimp, liver, chicken, duck, and meatballs. The broth is not as flavorful as Pho, as most of the flavor comes from the various meats in the soup. We got to try this at Trieu Chau and let's just say the restaurant could be cleaner and better organized. Yet, people still cram here to eat this classic dish despite the chaotic mess of a restaurant that this is. I chose to feature this here only for the sake of the popularity of this cuisine.
Another popular eatery is Song Long, which serves a variety of French and Vietnamese dishes. The menu has an entire section of French food - in French! We got the Roasted Chicken with House Special Fried Rice topped with an egg, which is also known as Com Bat Buu Ga Quay. We enjoyed this along with the french bread and butter that came out as an appetizer, as well as the French music in the background. It's a cute restaurant filled with artsy decor.
This is another dry vermicelli dish that is topped with a ton of meat, including egg rolls! It's best known as Bun Cha Gio, but we got the "special" version that comes with everything. Our first picture featured the pork spring rolls from Brodard Restaurant, and this dish shown here was devoured at Brodard Chateau - which is the fancier 2-story restaurant that caters to a more mixed crowd. The dishes are fancied up and a bit more expensive, but the ambiance may be worth it! We shared the Brodard Chateau Vermicelli, which includes charbroiled shrimp, BBQ pork, chicken, sugarcane shrimp paste, and egg roll over vermicelli served with herbs and limed-fish sauce. Again, this is the fancier version of Bun Cha Gio, which can be ordered at any other Vietnamese restaurant for half the price. If you're looking for a nice place for a date, business dinner, or birthday party, this may be the best Vietnamese restaurant for it!
Thank you for reading our adventure and journey through Little Saigon! We had a blast eating all of this food together and we’re so happy we were able to share this experience with Foodbuzz. To finish this 24, 24, 24 event post, here is a re-cap of all of the restaurants we went to and their addresses. We hope you find the opportunity to partake in some good Vietnamese dining in the near future!
Brodard Restaurant – 9892 Westminster Ave., Suite R, Garden Grove, CA. 92844
Quan Hy – 9727 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, Ca. 92683
Pho 79 – 9200 Bolsa Ave., Suite 117, Westminster, CA. 92683
Favori Restaurant - 3502 W. First St., Santa Ana, CA. 92703
Banh Cuon Tay Ho Restaurant – 9629 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, CA. 92683
Huong Giang – 14564 Brookhurst St., Westminster, CA. 92683
Com Tam Tran Qui Cap – 9607 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, CA. 92683
Ha Noi Restaurant – 9082 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, CA. 92683
Van Restaurant – 14122 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, CA. 92843
Trieu Chau – 4401 W. 1st St., Santa Ana, CA. 92703
Song Long Restaurant – 9631 Bolsa Ave. Suite 108, Westminster, CA. 92683
Brodard Chateau – 9100 Trask Ave., Garden Grove, CA. 92844