A Weekend in Little Saigon - Delectable Meatball and Cold Cut Banh Mi Sandwiches (Ba Le Westminster), Refreshing Cococane, Steaming Beef Noodle Soups, Crunchy & Silky Rice Cakes and Vietnamese Ice Coffee (Phin Smith) [Thoughts + Pics]

Did you call ahead? If you’re in the neighborhood, you can call in your order about 20-30 minutes before and it’ll be ready when you arrive. You do still have to get in line to pay, but you won’t have to wait for your drink.


Wow! Great to hear their business is doing so well!

More Ba Le?

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Hi @attran99,

Thanks for the tip! :slight_smile: We forgot to call ahead, :expressionless: but next time! Thanks.

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You may have been in line at the same time as my cousin. It was crazy busy there today. Hope you had a great trip down south.

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Update 6 (To-Go):

Last weekend (and this whole week) has been so Summery hot that the only thing I was craving was Cococane to beat the heat! :smile: So off we went…

Weekends are still relatively light traffic, so we got to Little Saigon in less than 35 minutes.

We wanted to try a few more FTC recommendations on this trip (thanks @JeetKuneBao), so we started with…

Canton Restaurant

Walking up, we saw that they had a sign posted: Canton Restaurant is “closed indefinitely.” :sob: I hope they make it through the pandemic. We were hoping to try their Chao Ca that @JeetKuneBao was talking about.

Pho Akaushi (Revisit)

Located inside the 2nd floor Food Court of Saigon Supermarket is Pho Akaushi, a Pho Specialist that utilizes American-raised Akaushi Beef (one of the main breeds of cattle for Wagyu Beef in Japan). We called ahead and confirmed that Owner Trong (Tom) Vu was still there and that they were open.

We had given up on Pho Akaushi after a major downhill alert (posted in this thread), but we were hoping perhaps they turned a corner?

As before, they literally serve 1 dish:

Pho Bo Kobe (Vietnamese Kobe Beef Noodle Soup):

Using the American-raised Akaushi Beef, they serve it with 3 different cuts:

American Akaushi Chuck Roll:

Letting it cook through in the hot Beef Broth, the Chuck Roll cut is lightly fatty, but it lacks the depth of luscious beefiness from our first 2 visits (perhaps a lesser cut now, or it was frozen?).

American Akaushi Rib Cube:

This was still deeply flavorful, beefy and delicious! :heart: We found out (too late) that you can order a side order of any of the cuts to add-on.

American Akaushi Beef Shank:

Cooked well-done, all of the real flavor was sapped out of this cut. :frowning: It tasted flavorless.

Taking a sip, the Beef Broth is very good, notes of Star Anise, Cloves, Coriander, Cinnamon, Ginger and other ingredients, helps to make this a very good Beef Pho Broth, probably one of the better ones in So Cal right now. :slight_smile:

It is maybe about ~75 - 80% of the greatness we had during our 1st and 2nd visits. Better than our last visit where it was total downhill alert.

Torched Akaushi Beef Slices:

Owner Vu ended up quickly making some of the Torched Akaushi Beef Slices like he did previously(!), which was a nice gesture (we were the only customers in the Food Hall), but unlike previous visits, this cut of Akaushi was flavorless. :frowning: It seems like it’s a different cut from before, or the quality of the Beef has gone downhill.

Overall Pho Akaushi on this 5th visit is not as good as its earlier days / debut, where it was stunning, but it’s better than our 4th visit when it declined badly. Even in its current state, it’s a very good bowl of Beef Pho Noodles and better than most Pho places we’ve tried recently. Here’s to hoping they survive and get back to the high quality / freshness as before.

(Cash Only)

Pho Akaushi
(Inside Saigon Supermarket, 2nd Floor Food Hall.)
10131 Westminster Ave., Suite 214
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Tel: (714) 210-9376


Song Long

Another recommendation from @JeetKuneBao, Song Long Restaurant is known for its Bo Kho (Beef Stew and Carrots & Daikon).

Bo Kho (Beef Stew, Carrots and Daikon, served with French Bread or Rice):

This is our first time having Bo Kho (why didn’t any FTC’ers tell us about this?! (j/k!)) :wink: Taking a bite:

I regret holding off on trying this dish for so long. :frowning:

Meltingly tender morsels of Stewed Beef Shank(?) in a light Tomato based Sauce, savory and sweet, from the Stewed Carrots and Daikon, perhaps a light note of Star Anise, maybe Cinnamon. It was delicious! :blush:

We didn’t know if we should order it with Bread or Rice (the waitress didn’t say) so we chose Rice.

Song Long was a pleasant surprise, serving up succulent, super tender morsels of Bo Kho (Beef Stew with Carrots and Daikon Radish)! If anyone has additional Bo Kho recommendations, please let me know. :slight_smile:

Song Long Restaurant
9361 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683
Tel: (714) 775-3724

Cococane (Revisit)

In this scorching Summer heat, as noted earlier, there was a line of 45 people waiting for Cococane! :open_mouth: But this was the whole reason we drove down to Little Saigon, so we waited (and it was worth it!). :blush:

Original Cococane (Coconut, Sugarcane, Coconut Meat):

Taking a sip:

Ridiculous. Cool, lightly sweet (not overly sweet), tropical, pure fresh-pressed Sugarcane Juice and Coconut Juice, chilled and totally thirst-quenching! :heart: :blush: :heart:

There is a reason there were 45+ people waiting for Cococane.

This was it. :heart:

Pennywort Cococane (Pennywort, Coconut, Sugarcane, Coconut Meat):

The Pennywort version is more herbal, but still refreshing. Between all the flavors, my favorite is still the OG Cococane.

It kept us cool and refreshed and happy the rest of the afternoon! :blush:

Do not miss out on this, especially during the Summer heat. One of the most refreshing Drinks in L.A. / O.C. period.

14338 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Tel: (714) 717-8750

Phin Smith (Revisit)

So even though we had the ultimate refreshing Drink, I had this quiet voice in my head whispering, “Phin Smith…” and before I knew it, we ended up standing in front of Phin Smith’s storefront…

Darn you @Ns1 @JeetKuneBao! :smile:

Charcoal Latte:

Never did I ever think I’d be ordering an Activated Charcoal Latte, and at Phin Smith no less. :sweat_smile: Our friendly server said after the Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee), the Charcoal Latte was their #3 most popular drink, so we took a chance.

It’s thankfully not just Charcoal, but also their District 1 Roast Coffee. It was surprisingly tasty, lightly nutty, earthy, and sippable.

But definitely not as good as their Vietnamese Iced Coffee nor their Coconut Coffee.

Ca Phe Sua Da - “Phin Style” (Vietnamese Iced Coffee - with Hazelnut Cream, Sea Salt Cream):

So aromatic, fragrant, smooth and balanced, on this 2nd visit, Phin Smith’s Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee) with their District 1 Roast (Robusta Beans from the central highlands of Vietnam) was as stupid good as the first time! :heart: :blush: :heart:

The “Phin Style” addition of Hazelnut Cream and Sea Salt Cream really adds even more enjoyment to each sip! Refreshing, smooth, beautiful Coffee flavors, chilled.

Phin Smith
12921 Main St.
Garden Grove, CA 92840


We can’t wait to go back to Cococane and Phin Smith, just to cool off again this weekend! :slight_smile: Thanks again @JeetKuneBao @Ns1 @attran99 and others for the great recommendations.


I love a good bo kho with bread myself. It can also be served with bun for a great noodle soup. Just make sure you have the lime, salt & pepper mix to dip the meat or vegetables for a refreshing hit in between bites.
Growing up, I used to also love the escargot at Song Long…and the bread to sop up the garlic butter was great!


Bo Kho is versatile pick your carb…

Rice, bread, egg noodles, rice noodles its all good!

Song Long is a Little Saigon OG. Little @Ns1 and little @attran99 ate there as little kids. I think pretty much every Bolsa kid has eaten there amiright?

That’s too bad about Canton, it’s a true Mom n Pop hole in the wall so I know it will be tough for them with this current situation.

Pho Akaushi at one point had some of the best if not the best bowl in Little Saigon. I wish Tom well during all of this. I was wondering if this was because he was unable to source it from the farm in Texas. Maintain consistency with Beef Pho is difficult it’s also why I kinda avoid eating it despite it being one of the most famous dishes in the world and beautifully a dish that is embraced here in So Cal by all types of people.

Bo Kho is so good, it looks French but I love the addition of Vietnamese ingredients. @attran99 is correct you must dip the beef into a dipping sauce of lime juice-salt-pepper. I kinda figured that out on my own because the Uncle Waiters don’t tell you how to eat it lol

Glad to see the consistency with Cococane and Phin Smith! Cococane got copy cats now lol. That damn Cafe Sua Da is so addicting right?


Also I can’t believe you got Charcoal Latte in Little Saigon Lol

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Hi @attran99 (and @JeetKuneBao),

! They never gave us any lime, salt & pepper mix! :frowning: Darn. Maybe they were too busy and forgot?

So you’re supposed to dip the Bo Kho into that mixture and then eat? It was tasty already, but can’t wait to try this way next time.

And I’ll have to try the Escargot next time as well, thanks. :slight_smile:

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Hi @JeetKuneBao,

Thank you again for the great recommendations! :slight_smile:

For Bo Kho, is Song Long the standard bearer then? It was tasty for our first try already.

Pho Akaushi - Yah we don’t know what’s going on, but it was still very solid, but not as great as before. Hopefully it’s just a temporary rut.

And yah, Cococane = Joy (and Phin Smith!) So refreshing! :heart:

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It’s a pretty standard issue for bo kho. You can always ask for it.


I haven’t really had it much outside of Song Long tbh.

It’s actually in a lot of restaurants, even place like Pho 79 has it. It really is an all day dish…breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Across the street (near Ba Le), is Le Croissant Dore, they are known for 2 things…the fruit tarts and Bo Kho. They have variants of Bo Kho…regular, beef tongue, red wine, and you can have it with bread or noodles. Also with noodles you can add basil/sprouts/jalapeño for more flavor. Yelp reviews show some inconsistency. I thought it was fine.


Re: croissant dore
I have eaten dozens of their fruit tarts in my life and have been known to eat whole fruit tarts by myself.

Alas after eating the likes of republique’s MPFCP, it is clear le croissant dore is operating in a different era.

Re: song long
They harken from a time where there was only one Pho 54 it was located next to a billiards joint. Does anyone else in LS serve this type of food besides Song Long and Favori?

Re: Canton
Huge, huge, huge loss for little Saigon.


Hi @Ns1,

Thanks for the info and thoughts. I’m sad I never got a chance to try Canton Restaurant.

So for Bo Kho, do you recommend I try the version at Favori as well? Or is Song Long the main place you’d recommend? :slight_smile: Thanks.

I don’t have a current rec, save to say I consider Song Long to be par.

Having said that, you gotta eat bo kho with bread or my personal preference, egg noodles. And some places will use a specific type of harder, drier egg noodle which I have no idea what it’s called.

if you’re ever at a noodle shop or generalist such as Golden Deli, bo kho is usually a safe bet at worst.


Went to Cococane today. They were not answering the phone so had to wait in line. About 15 people ahead of me and 15 minute wait. I think I’m just not that big a fan of coconut water. But it was very refreshing.


Hi @js76wisco,

Thanks for the report back, glad you only had a slight wait. :slight_smile: Bummer about your experience with Cococane. I normally don’t like coconut water straight up, but found that when blended with sugarcane juice here in Cococane that it’s much more palatable and tasty.

If you’re a fan of great iced coffees, you might give Phin Smith a try next time instead. :slight_smile:


Ba Le has a Vietnamese Bacon (Ba Chi) Banh Mi. Anyone tried this? @Ns1 @attran99 @hppzz

A Vietnamese Bacon and Fried Egg Banh Mi sounds pretty good!


I saw it the other week when I was there. It’s really thit nguoi. Still pork.


I’m ABV so I simply know it as that sliced meat they put in dac biet sandwiches.