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]

Agree with @attran99 its pork belly thit nguoi.


I only eat vegetarian bo kho now (replace meat broth with veggie broth and meat with tofu), but my family always ate it with banh mi baguettes, not rice. But lots of places give you the option of bread or rice.


If you are ever in Little Saigon pay Golden Flower Veggie a visit! The mi sate is wonderful. To drink they make fresh corn drink and a really good pandan drink as well.


I love Golden Flower Veggie! Haven’t been there in over a year though, think that maybe I need to get down there this weekend and load up on all my viet faves, and try Cococane and Phin Smith for the first time :yum:


Hi @hanhgry,

Nice! Looking forward to your report and hope you enjoy your visit to Phin Smith and Cococane (and all the other places). :wink:

1 Like

Hi @Chowseeker1999,
When you visited Pho Akaushi last month, did you happen to notice if the vendor in the back Quan Ca Saigon was still doing business? Wondering if one of those whole fish would hold up until home…

1 Like

Fried? Baked? Steamed?
The first two I’ve brought home before…just remove the foil cover top to help keep your fish crispy. Requires maybe at few minutes in the oven to rewarm if your journey is far.

1 Like

Hi @EattheWorldLA,

Hm, the light on the sign was on in the back, but we didn’t notice / look for a person working the stall, so I don’t know for sure if the staff is there. Is there a phone #, or if you go, please report back. Thanks.

1 Like

I just noticed this on Song Long’s To-Go menu:

Has anyone tried their Cha Ca Thang Long (Sizzling Fish with Dill, Onions, Peanuts and Rice Vermicelli)?

Or have a great version to recommend? (Although To-Go… I don’t know if it’d translate well?)

Thanks in advance!

if Canton restaurant ever opens up they do a reliable version

1 Like

Update 7 (To-Go):

We were originally going to start our Little Saigon visit this weekend with our favorite Banh Mi Sandwich at Ba Le…

Ba Le Sandwiches (Westminster) (Revisit)

However, walking in during lunch hour today, they were sold out of all of their Banh Mi Baguettes. :open_mouth: When we asked the owner, she said that “it got really busy” and folks bought up all of her Baguettes for the weekend. Wow. She apologized and encouraged us to come back again.

I’m glad that they seem to have better business these days, although it seems it was more about folks buying up her Baguettes rather than full Banh Mi Sandwiches.

Long An - Balut Pateros

We met up with a friend of ours who wanted to try some places in Little Saigon we had been talking about, but not before they introduced us to Long An.

It appears Long An is a Balut specialist(!). :sweat:

Thankfully the insides of the Balut were not on display, but I know some folks who love this stuff. :slight_smile:

They also sold Salted Duck Eggs, but we weren’t sure if they were pre-cooked, or the raw Salted Duck Eggs that were originally more prevalent around So Cal a few years back.

Our friend bought a half dozen Balut to enjoy this week.

Long An - Balut Pateros
15075 Weststate St.
Westminster, CA 92683
Tel: (714) 890-1321

Thanh Restaurant (Revisit)

We enjoyed our previous visit to this Com Tam (Vietnamese Broken Rice) specialist.

#34: Com Tam Tau Hu Ky Cha Suon Nuong Bi (Broken Rice with 1 Choice of BBQ Meat (BBQ Pork Chop), Shrimp Mousseline in Tofu Paper, Steamed Pork Cake & Julienne Pork) (Swapped the Sausage for Bi (Julienne Pork)):

Tau Hu Ky (Shrimp Mousseline in Tofu Paper):

Their Tau Hu Ky (Shrimp Mousseline in Tofu Paper) on this visit was as consistent as before: Nicely fried Tofu Paper stuffed with a Shrimp Mousseline, which was a meaty pure Shrimp filling. This was pretty good, but @Ns1’s recommended Com Tam Tran Quy Cap’s version is better.

Suon Nuong (BBQ Pork Chop):

Their Suon Nuong (BBQ Pork Chop) had a pleasing sweet-savory seasoning permeating each bite. It’s a bit overcooked, a touch dry, but still having some juiciness in the Pork Chop. After having the insane Heritage Pork Chop version at Pearl River Deli the past few weekends, it’s hard to go back to a more simple, humble version here, but it was still tasty for this visit. :wink:

Steamed Pork (& Egg) Cake:

Excellent! :heart: The Steamed Pork & Egg Cake was moist, flavorful, not overly salty and just a great accompaniment with the Rice and rest of the meal.

Bi (Julienne Pork):

The Bi (Julienne Pork) continues to be a standout here at Thanh. Just like last time, it’s very fresh tasting, little meaty bites with some nice textural contrast. Add some of their Nuoc Mam (Fish Sauce-based Dipping Sauce) and it’s even better. :blush:

(Cash Only)

Thanh Restaurant
9870 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683
Tel: (714) 531-3888

Phin Smith (Revisit)

With the sweltering heat, a nice chilled Vietnamese Iced Coffee seemed like the way to go. And for that, it meant Phin Smith of course. :slight_smile:

It seemed the heat got to everyone as not only were there lines at Cococane, but Phin Smith had a line out the door, with about 12 people ahead of us when we arrived.

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

Using their District 1 Roast, Phin Smith continues to offer an incredibly smooth, chilled, aromatic version of Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee), and ordering it “Phin Style” (with Hazelnut Cream, Sea Salt Cream) adds even more distinct nuttiness and flavor. :heart:

Coconut Coffee (Ice Blend):

This is definitely our 2nd favorite drink at Phin Smith so far: Phin Smith starts with a chilled, tropical Coconut Ice Cream base and adds their District 1 Roast Coffee to the mix, and you have another cooling drink to beat the Summer heat! :heart:

Thanks again for the recommendation @Ns1 @JeetKuneBao. :slight_smile:

Phin Smith
12921 Main St.
Garden Grove, CA 92840


We thought our Little Saigon adventure was over, but just as we were walking out we noticed a sign for the establishment next door:


In a way, we are thankful @JeetKuneBao and @Ns1 never mentioned this House of Evil that sat next to the wonderful Phin Smith all this time. I so desperately wanted to leave and move on, but like a moth to the flame, I had to see what horror awaited inside… :stuck_out_tongue:

Thankfully it did not smell like fresh cow manure, but they had all sorts of Durian on display here, including making Durian Pastries(!). :nauseated_face: :stuck_out_tongue: :expressionless:

We quickly left and finished up this visit with trying new flavors at Oliboli Donuts. :slight_smile:


The notes are more methane with a touch of decomposing corpse


I’ve always compared it to a combination of rotten onions, putrid feet and a touch of cake essence. My parents are the biggest durian fans I know.

1 Like

I once went on one of these silly resort excursions they offered while vacationing in Southeast Asia. It was billed as a durian “expedition”, where we walked in a patch of jungle where durians were growing. As soon as our guide heard the “thud” of a just-ripe durian falling from the treetop to the ground, we rushed over and broke the fruit open to enjoy it, right then and there.

I scoffed at the whole notion of it at first, but I gotta say, the taste of the durian that day in the forest changed my entire perception of this fruit. A certain smell does emanate from the fruit, but it was not offensive in the least, and the word ‘stench’ did not come to mind. As for its flesh, I liken its taste to a garlicky, yet chocolatey richness, soft on the tongue. Our guide says that the decomposition of the durian occurs fast on the jungle floor, as a competitive advantage for the species, in order to invite the native animals to quickly break open the fruit and spread the seeds within. It is this rapid decomposition of the fruit (often during a long transit to market) which gives the durian its dubious reputation.


(Oh, and we got eaten alive by the local mosquitoes while hunting for the fruit…)


That’s a great story! If that’s what it’s like when it ripens on the tree, I can see the lure of it for my family.

1 Like

Maybe it’s weird, but I prefer durian flavored food over actual durian. Like I’ll eat a durian cake or but not the real thing.


Paging @bray___ray at antico to make some durian ice cream.


Noooo… :nauseated_face: :scream: :sweat_smile:

1 Like

We got this in NYC

but the best I’ve had is this

1 Like

Maybe top it with some nice slimy Natto while we’re at it? :stuck_out_tongue: :expressionless: :nauseated_face:

1 Like