Dear Peeps of this here Fobloog,
I bet you didn't know this, but since moving to LA I've denied myself a great pleasure... the joys of Vietnamese food. No worries, though. I'm happy to say that all changed last Friday, when my friend Joe and I ventured to San Gabriel for some Golden Deli action.
Golden Deli, per Chowhound.com, is a great spot to get all kinds of Vietnamese food. Joe wanted to try their Pho (traditional Vietnamese soup) and I wanted to try their Bun Bo Nuong--most people order this cold vermicelli noodle dish with grilled pork (as Bun Thit Nuong), but I got it with grilled beef like I've had it at University Pl. & 13th St. in NYC. Uh huh, that's a picture of my fave dish up there!
People who haven't tried Vietnamese food may assume it's similar to other Asian cuisines, ie. Thai or Korean. The wikipedia listing for Vietnamese food is: "A cuisine known for its common use of fish sauce, soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Recipes use many vegetables, herbs and spices, including lemon grass, lime, and kaffir lime leaves. Throughout all regions the emphasis is always on serving fresh vegetables and/or fresh herbs as side dishes along with dipping sauce."
Anywho, we got there at 8pm and had to wait 15-20 minutes. It was crowded! Once inside we saw the vast menu and stuck to our plans: Joe ordered a beef Pho and I ordered my beef and noodle dish. Each item cost under $5!! So that's why we also ordered the shrimp and pork summer roll appetizer (Goi Cuon) and a Banh Mi, the famous Vietnamese sandwich (French bread with paté, Vietnamese mayo, pork, pickled daikon, carrot, and cucumber slices) because I'd always wanted to try that and especially since here it only cost ...hello $3!
How did everything taste? Well Joe said the Pho was tops, compared to other places, and it came with fresh basil and bean sprouts to mix in. My Bun Bo Nuong rated a T for Tasty, though the beef was cut thinner than I prefer in this dish (I'm telling you the best place for thin cut beef is in a greazy Philly cheesesteak in this person's humble opinion). The pork sandwich and spring rolls were tasty too, and all that plus an iced tea came to $17! Wow no wonder this place is crowded.
One thing I love about Vietnamese food is its simple fresh ingredients and deliciousness. Another thing is the various options for adding heat on the table, so if you don't like spicy food like my Mom it's perfect because everything arrives "spicy" free. These sauces were: hoisin sauce, red chili sauce (a.k.a. sambal olek) and a lovely chili flake-infused brown oil. Mmmmmmmm happy stuff!
Now this was all well and good, and I do recommend you make a trip to the Golden Deli soon. Note, however, that when you are there, I'll likely be next door trying something else. In the same strip mall is an awesome-looking Chinese seafood spot (with other Asian influences) called Newport Seafood Tan Cang Restaurant.
From what we could see through the window, they apparently serve a close relative to the famous (say it with me now) "Shanghai Chili Crab," AND they make the dish with lobster too! Shiver me crab legs! On the menu it's called New Port Special Crab (and New Port Special Lobster), stir-fried with chopped green onions, various colored chiles and onions. Watching tables dine on these platters of delectable chopped up crustacean blew my food-lovin' mind. No price is listed on the menu for these items, but come on, does it really matter??
See you in San Gabriel soon!