What Charmin Bears Love: Food|Dogs|Sephora

Our foodie instincts take over when we're out and about.

Los Angeles: Little Saigon

on September 21, 2011

I honestly don’t even know how to start blogging about LA.  I’ve thought about category of food, but I haven’t finished exploring my ramen, sushi, bubble tea, etc. options yet.  I’ll start with a post on Little Saigon though since I doubt I’ll really go to many other places.  I will be posting a blog dedicated to strictly bubble tea and one to ramen though.  I just have to try all the places I want to try first!

Anyway, my boyfriend knew I was craving Vietnamese food.  I haven’t had any since Boston before I moved out of my old apartment and that was more than 4 months ago.  He drove me down to Little Saigon, which is actually about 40 minutes south of LA.

Ngu Binh @14072 Magnolia Street

My boyfriend had yelped this place and decided to give it a try.  We got there around 1pm, but there was still a wait.  You know it’s good when it’s all Vietnamese people waiting, the waiters are rude and don’t speak English, and they wipe the table briefly with a wet towel that’s probably not that clean.  I love it!

Ngu Binh - Banh Beo Chen

Ngu Binh - Banh Beo Chen

Banh Beo is one of my favorite Vietnamese appetizers.  It’s a popular Hue dish that I’ve loved since I was little.  Banh Beo Chen is just Banh Beo presented in the individual dishes.  For those of you who’ve never had it, it is small rice flour cakes, topped with dried and fresh cotton shrimp, scallions, fried shallots and fried pork fat.  Sometimes it includes mung bean paste, but Ngu Binh’s didn’t.  And of course, you drizzle it with fish sauce for the finishing touch!

Ngu Binh - Banh Canh Tom Cua

Ngu Binh - Banh Canh Tom Cua

It’s actually quite difficult to find Banh Canh at restaurants, at least in Boston, so I was really excited to see this on the menu.  Banh Canh is a thick white rice noodle, similar in texture to Banh Beo.  However, I thought the soup was a bit too thick, which is expected from a Banh Canh Cua (crab).  Vietnamese people usually can handle their spicy, but not me.  I wish they had just given the hot sauce to me on the side.  The soup was flavorful and there was an abundance of crabmeat and shrimp paste.

Ngu Binh - Bun Bo Hue Dac Biet

Ngu Binh - Bun Bo Hue Dac Biet

Bun Bo Hue is Vietnamese, specifically Hue style, spicy beef noodle soup.  The soup’s essence lies in lemongrass and chili pepper.  The meats include shrimp paste, beef, oxtail, pork and coagulated blood.  I never eat the last ingredient.  Yuck.  My boyfriend was the one who ordered this.  I don’t really know what makes it so “dac biet” (special), maybe the bowl is bigger, but I thought it was okay.  I wasn’t crazy about it.

Overall, I really like Ngu Binh.  I love how authentic it is.  It’s focus is on central Vietnamese cuisine, which isn’t nearly as popular in Boston.  I’m quite excited to try the Mi Quang and Banh Nam next time!

Brodard Restaurant @ 9892 Westminster Avenue

I think I’m such a Vietnamese food snob, since I was born there and grew up eating this kind of food.  People kept talking about Brodard and their Nem Nuong Cuon like it was a novelty.  Most of the people who rave about Brodard are probably the ones that have only had fresh spring rolls and deep fried egg rolls.  But there are others who have had it that are still impressed by their sauce.

Brodard - Nem Nuong Cuon

Brodard - Nem Nuong Cuon

I don’t think I got that much of a wow factor from the Nem Nuong Cuon themselves.  Their sauce, however, is definitely different.  I’ve never had it serve in this weird, thick, soup-like, sauce.  But no complaints here, it was delicious!  I don’t know if I would frequently travel 40 minutes to get some of these though.

Little Saigon was fun.  It was more like a little town with tons of strip malls.  It was quite difficult to find these restaurants since there weren’t a lot of clear signs.  But I’m quite excited to explore.  There are so many options and probably a ton more hidden gems.  Los Angeles looks quite promising!



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