HUNGRY BUDDHA BELLY


Central Vietnamese Food by phoboy99

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Hello hungry bellies out there! I am finally giving you one of many great restaurants in Little Saigon that I go to. This is a true secret and I don’t think anyone of my friends know about this little gem. Alas, the shroud of mystery is revealed in the heart of Little Saigon at an old strip mall that has been around ever since I have moved to CA and even before the area was officially named “Little Saigon”.

First of all let’s go over the ground rules of most places in this town.

  1. Don’t expect great service. The service is the same everywhere at all restaurants and don’t take it personal. They treat their most common customers as well as new ones the same. Not Rude but indifferent.
  2. If the waiter or waitress seats you and then stands near by to take your order right away don’t be bothered with it. They assume you know what you want since most restaurants specialize in a particular dish so they are waiting for an order of how much and how you want it.
  3. Also got to order drinks at the same time when ordering food.
  4. Always pay cash. Most restaurants in Little Saigon don’t take credit cards, and if they do I would consider them “fancy”.
  5. You can ask them what their specialty is but most likely they will try to explain in their limited English skills. Some places have picture books since I do notice that a lot more Mexican families eating at these places. I think they know good, fresh and cheap food. Best value in town.
  6. Fish Sauce “Nuoc Mam” is king in this town. If in doubt dip it in Nuoc Mam and it all tastes good.

 

With all of that being said check out DA NANG TRAN QUY CAP tucked in the corner of a strip mall in 9607 Bolsa Avenue, Westminster, CA 92683 near Bolsa and Bushard Street.

This place specializes in 3 types of food varieties. COM TAM -which is a broken rice dish with various versions with BBQ pork, Grilled Shrimp, Quiche, on the side. It is like a Vietnamese version of Hawaiian plate lunch. Except the rice is literally broken. The jasmine rice is cut in half to give a more fragrant flavor in every bite as well as having a texture similar to couscous in your mouth. I always imagined that they have kids with small hands cutting each rice kernel in a factory somewhere. I will review this dish on another day since this place ranks as top 3 places in my opinion for Com Tam.

 

The other dish is the “Darth Vader” of noodles to its well-known brother Pho. It is a popular dish in Vietnamese cultures named after where it is originated in the old imperial capital of Central Vietnam, HUE. The rice noodle used in this soup is different (much thicker) from the one used in Pho. The noodle is most similar to the Japanese soba noodle in size and texture. The broth is prepared by cooking bones for a long period of time, as well as a large variety of different spices including lemon grass and chili. In this belly warming soup usually includes thin slices of marinate beef shank, chunks of well-cooked oxtails, and pig’s knuckles. It can also include cubes of congealed pig blood (jello blood). Before I gross you out, it is a delicacy but honestly I usually order this soup without the HUYET (jello blood). If you are adventurous GO FOR IT. This soup is very similar to Menudo but with a more robust flavor in lemon grass.  BUN BO HUE is similar to Pho in the sense that it is commonly served with bean sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, and thinly sliced banana blossom. Bun Bo Hue is one of my favorites on a cold day or if I need to sweat out any chills that I have. You marry flavors of sweet, spicy, salty, sour, and blend in the accompaniment of the fresh vegetables, sprouts, and banana blossoms it makes this soup complete.  I understand now why this dish is revered to be a staple of the old imperial capital of Vietnam.

 

The second dish, I had was served as an appetizer, BANH BEO, This light rice noodle/crepe style dish is steamed in a little sauce dish and then topped with finely minced shrimp, sauté green onions, fried shallots/garlic, and fried pork rinds for crispy accents. You have to scrape the noodle off of the dish and add a sprinkle of the “Vietnamese Holy water” (NUOC MAM-FISH SAUCE) and then slide it all in like an oyster shooter. I think this place makes one of the best Banh Beo dishes in Little Saigon.

 

Overall, Da Nang Tran Quy Cap earns a 4 AND HALF RUBS OF THE BUDDHA BELLY. I would give it a 5 Rub but the service taints the rating. Check out my secret and introduction to Central Vietnamese food. COME TO THE DARKSIDE!!! J

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