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]

Thanks @Ns1.

So the roast meat experts in Little Saigon, is it a Vietnamese take on Hong Kong / Cantonese-style roast meats? Or is it a distinct Vietnamese style that’s different? (because it looks really similar to, say, Sam Woo.) Thanks!

Baked catfish is the quintessential dish. I pair with banh hoi w/ shrimp paste and sugarcane. Fried calamari there is also surprisingly good and done in the Vietnamese style.


IMO they are simply sam woo style delis. Differences may be with the sauces that they provide and other stuff that they sell, e.g. Roast pork with banh hoi is a very common pairing in little Saigon yet damn near impossible to find outside of little Saigon.


Hi @attran99,

Thanks for the Banh Mi DIY suggestion! I’ll try that next time (it sounds wonderful). :blush:

Sorry to hear you’re sick. Hope you feel better soon!

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The DIY Banh Mi’s are endless. I will be doing a Chinese-Viet BBQ from Lien Hoa/New Duong Son with Saigon Bakery Egg Banh Mi’s soon. Ba Le is also great for mayo and pickled veggies. These DIY Banh Mi’s are kind of a local thing too.

Since we are throwing our favorite Vietnamese dishes to CS

Banh Xeo/Banh Khot

Hu Tieu (Little Saigon has 3 diffferent distinct styles of Hu Tieu).

Com Phan (Vietnamese Family-style meals)

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I love the shade!!! :wink:

Epic post. Thank you again for being so gracious w/ your time (both in terms of the eating, driving, and how long it must take to write it all up). I do wonder if there are board lurkers who develop eating itineraries based on your posts.


Thanks @JeetKuneBao! :slight_smile:

Where do you recommend going for Banh Khot? And for Com Phan is that… Mai’s that you’ve been translating?

Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

Thank you! :slight_smile: I have to thank you and everyone else who post here regularly. It’s a treasure trove of information thanks to you and everyone’s contributions.

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Heck I don’t know - your gonna be the expert!! :relaxed:

edit: forgot to mention a potential rec for you. New Duong Son on Bolsa has been consistently delicious for us. The duck and pork has been spot on. We haven’t been in at least four months but I’d be surprised if they’ve changed.

There is a ton of great stuff in Garden Grove / Westminster (the heart of it all) and maybe outliers in Santa Ana waiting to be discovered!

I too prefer my cha gio with the delicate rice paper wrap, but cut into small bite sized pieces. Proper way to eat it is like with a banh xeo (speaking of which where are the best renditions in Westminster and are there pandan banh xeo too like in San Jose?), greens wrap, and herbs and of course with a good nuoc mam.

Next up on the list to try: Cha Oc Gia Huy on McFadden, hopefully they are still around. Brilliant Cha Oc (sea snail sausages) which is signature Hue/Central Vietnamese, and many other Cha Oc related items. There is nothing like this in Northern California and any other cha oc renditions are a sad joke. Nem cha is excellent there too (fermented sausage) and is great beer food too! They sell the cha oc frozen to go so you can cook it yourself at home, but when they are made fresh and eaten hot at the deli, it’s heavenly. Though somehow the frozen ones have more intense lemongrass flavors. Oc Nuong La Lot (grilled with grape leaf) is probably my top favorite of the lineup (again, a must to eat in there). The coffee is pretty decent there, and their pandan waffles are good to end the meal with. I would love to explore more if I were to return.

I remember going to Bun Bo Hue So #1 and felt their BBH broth and overall execution resulted in a more subtle taste and experience, though lighter in a easy going way, but paled in comparison to Ngu Binh. Was told that Vien Dong was far superior and I should have gone there for that, but it looks like they are closed for good.

I bookmarked Com Tam Thuan Kieu, maybe it was a future alternative to nem nuong cuon since Brodard fell hard from grace for those some time back.

Still remembering Au Coeur De Paris for a pate chaud to squeeze in a bang bang.

Anyone got a favorite place for Bo 7 Mon (7 course beef) in the area?


That is the kind where you let the ice melt on a hot day. :flushed:

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This thread is great, full of priceless foodie intel!


For Bo 7 Mon, I usually head to Hong An at Good Fortune Mall…located behind the McDonald’s.
Disclaimer: I’m related to the owners and this place ends up hosting most of our family dinners when we’re not potlucking at someone’s house. I adore the bo la lot…I can eat that in my rice paper wraps by the truckload. The catfish is pretty tasty here, too. If they have all the ingredients, you may be able to order their shrimp paste-wrapped snow crab claws. My kid can knock down a plate of those by himself. They only stock those ingredients when they have orders for large format banquets.


Thanks! Our most well known Bo 7 Mon in Northern California is called Anh Hong (haha a reverse of Hong An), of which the Tenderloin location in San Francisco is supposed to be the best (supposedly a different family from the core runs the other locations). The grape leaf / bo la lot grilled version is absolutely fantastic for me as well (with the chao course at Anh Hong being the weakest), and while the 7 courses are fun to try once, in reality at AH only a few of the dishes are stellar. I add some cucumbers and herbs/veggies in the rice wrap and dip it in this fermented ? type sauce that’s a little shrimp paste/nuoc mam profile (forgot the name). And this goes supremely well with a really good Beaujolais Cru like Morgon or Jean Foillard (no doubt a Pinot Noir would work too). I do enjoy the grilled shrimp paste wrapped around sugar cane at Anh Hong as well.

Shrimp paste wrapped crab claws is also an old school Cantonese banquet dish, but has disappeared from a lot of menus. The deconstructed lobster salad (with apple and mayonaise) is another, but that’s also HK Cantonese rooted (where they take a 9V battery and light up the lobster eyes…)

I have not had any good luck with grilled catfish in San Jose, too dry and boney, but I get the concept/approach. That’s in a separate restaurant.

We also have decent places that do Vietnamese style Hainam chicken, the one that is more well known and closer to Singaporean/Malaysian and another that is a cross between soy sauce chicken with a tomato like umami (almost baked) and is served with tomato rice instead of chicken lard/stock flavored rice. Where are the best spots in Westminster for this?


!!! :open_mouth:

Why hasn’t @chandavkl @ipsedixit and others mentioned this yet?! 9-volt battery powered Lobster Eyes at a Cantonese dinner?! LOL. :grin:

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Thanks again @attran99. :slight_smile: How do you know when it’s ready to remove from the fryer? When the cha gio turns golden brown? Do you have a recommended time (e.g., 5 min? 10 min?).

Regarding the rice paper wrapped cha gio, ah this was the discussion you and @Ns1 were talking about last year right?

Did anyone end up recommending a good place to try it at? Or just at home? (@beefnoguy have any recommendations as well?)


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Because its fucking creepy.

Like sex toys. Good in theory, not so much in practice.


Here’s my cha gio. Could be prettier I suppose but awfully good.


Thanks for the history lesson…I knew the crab claw dish was Chinese-rooted, but didn’t know exactly where and how.
The fermented sauce you mention is literally called mam…pronounced the same way as nuoc mam. When I was younger, friends and family traveling to Vietnam would smuggle that stuff back in their luggage in duct taped-wrapped plastic jars because there was no way to replicate it here. I always thought those folks were gangsta because if that nonsense was to leak…it would ruin everything in your luggage and may make the customs dogs hungry while scaring the TSA staff. My Dad loves this mam stuff, but I am not a fan so I don’t keep up with what’s available on the market now. Hopefully, someone else can chime in about this one.


Plus battery powered lobster eyes was so 1990s.

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