Modern Chinese Cuisine Steeped in Tradition, but Accessible to a Wider Audience and New Generation – Succulent Roasted Pork Shoulder Char Siu, Supple Hainan Chicken Rice, Outrageous Pork Chop Buns and More! – Needle and Pearl River Deli [Thoughts + Pics]

I know Ngu Binh and Ben Ngu have banh nam. I actually never had it tbh. There so many little dishes like that in Central Vietnamese food, look for all the “banh” on the menu.

PRD’s com ga looks pretty good, was there rau ram in that herb mixture? I only had the dish at Quan Vy Da but after that I only go there for banh beo. I thought the com ga was just okay/average.


:rofl: :rofl:

How was the noodle? It looks a tad too thick (and soft), maybe due to the closeup shot?

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Yes there’s rau ram, but not as much as there should be due to how bad the condition was at the market there was only so much one could salvage.


Hi @JeetKuneBao,

Oh! The “Com Ga Vy Da” that I had on one of the earlier visits to Little Saigon! That’s Quan Vy Da’s take on Com Ga Hoi An? Ah, thanks for clearing that up.

Yah looking back on that visit, Pearl River Deli’s first attempt at Com Ga Hoi An is definitely superior. That’s amazing what Chef Lee is doing, it was so fresh, bright and delicious in comparison. Thanks.

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Vy Da is not doing the turmeric rice too. I’ll have to check other Central Vietnamese restaurant menus for Com Ga Hoi An, but tbh I wouldn’t expect the best version of this. Maybe spme pho ga places (higher quality chicken) can pull off a good one.

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Hi @JeetKuneBao,

Good to know! I think we tried Com Ga Hoi An (I’m not sure that’s what it was called) at HP Pho Ga Bac Ninh (which has great Pho Ga), and we weren’t impressed with the rice plate. If it turns out true, then Pearl River Deli is making quite possibly one of the top Com Ga Hoi An in the city(!). Wow.

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@Chowseeker1999 unfortunately we don’t know of any places that make com ga Hoi an. It is one of our favorite styles of chicken rice and we usually make it at home esp when we have an abundance of rau ram from the garden and fresh ga di bo from the live poultry spots. Actually might make it soon!

We’re glad @JLee is making it and Nguyên at is making homestyle Vietnamese. They are making food with intention. By that I mean they are making things their way and what they want to serve, not defined solely by what customers expect (ie pho, noodle bowls and Banh mi for vnmese) but defined by what they want to tell and showcase through their food.

As oppose to the OG places that opened for survival that can’t afford to add a dish that noones heard of—their menu and food is based on existence—not an intention to tell a story or display a technique of regional cooking. It’s a big difference. And it’s hard for those OG restaurants to change—customers come to expect what a Vietnamese place should have (pho, noodle bowls etc) so its a blessing really that the OC has such a diverse diaspora of vnmese that there are regional cooking to be found. But there’s plenty of dishes that still haven’t made it.

And this applies to most immigrant cuisine, really. IRL example, a thai chef friend tried to introduce khao soi over 10 years ago and know one knew about or ordered it even though they tried to push it heavily on the menu. Now it’s all the rage. Even today when they try to introduce lesser known dishes it’s a struggle to break the “tyranny of pad Thai” according to her, but it’s also what pays the bills.

Sorry, long winded answer to your question! But agree with @JeetKuneBao seek the central specialist like ngu binh and others for Banh nam.


Hi @hppzz,

Thank you for the great thoughts and observations about OG restaurants in Little Saigon compared to what Chef Lee and others are doing with their newer restaurants.

And your homemade version of Com Ga Hoi An looks amazing! :blush:

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Hi @Sgee,

The noodles weren’t too thick (yes, sorry, too close of a shot!). :wink: They were maybe a touch softer than the most “al dente” (with bite) spectrum of egg noodles I’ve had before over the years, but nothing too soft.

I literally just finished my almost OOE. Some stuff happened and their batch of banh nam wasn’t right so Chef decided not to offer it.
The com ga hoi an was nice! It was super subtle, and then you get the herb and onion salad mix. This is a dish that I didn’t grow up eating so I don’t have a frame of reference.
The charsiu wonton noodle soup was ridiculous and bonkers. [turns around to look in all directions and in the faintest whisper] Chef @JLee may make a better wonton than my Mom. But I will never admit that to her personally. The shrimp and pork flavors are pristine and bright…and it being like 3 times bigger than my Mom’s is certainly not a bad thing. The charsiu, noodles, yu choy were all great. The broth was a touch different than what I’m used to…more herbaceous…the ginger and scallion comes through a touch stronger. A squeeze of lime at home and I was good to go…maybe it it’s a family thing…all our noodle soup dishes had a some acidity.
That pork chop, though! My husband did say out loud that it was better than my Mom’s. It was as Vietnamese as any Vietnamese meal I’ve ever had. The flavor and cook on that chop was spot on. And with the rice, nuoc mam, pickled veg, fried egg, and scallion oil I was transported back to family dinners growing up.
The PRD team is always so awesome! So warm, welcoming and fun. They were so apologetic when they told me the banh nam wouldn’t be available. Chef Lee is a genius…his flavors can be restrained and subtle, but he can really ramp up the flavors when he wants. Thanks for an amazing lunch that stirred so many happy memories.


Hi @attran99,

Great report back! :blush: So glad you enjoyed Chef Lee’s Housemade Wonton Noodle Soup. So good, right? :slight_smile:

And that’s great to hear your perspective on their Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chop Rice. I really liked the various Com Tam places recently in Little Saigon, but the quality of that juicy Heritage Pork Chop at Pearl River Deli… wow. :slight_smile:


Update 7:

We were originally going to stop by to try their new version of Hakka Pork Belly, but found a pleasant surprise:

  • Pearl River Deli’s Wonton Noodles are still on the menu this week(!). :slight_smile:

It seems they want to see if it is popular enough to remain as a permanent menu item (I hope so).

Hakka Pork Belly:

For this second iteration of Chef Johnny Lee’s Hakka Pork Belly dish, the slices of Pork Belly were bright and meaty. A touch too firm for our tastes, but still tender. If it was a bit more tender, this would be insane.

The Preserved Mustard Greens (made in-house by Chef Lee!) add some flavor to the dish and you can taste the quality, but it needs more punch, more of that enticing aroma that this Sun-Dried Preserved Green usually has.

(Special) Lemongrass Pork Chop (Served with Rice, Fried Egg, Scallion Oil, and Pickled Daikon and Carrots):

Chef Lee has brought back the wonderful Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chop / homage to Com Tam (Broken Rice) Plate dish from last weekend! It is as outstanding as it was on this 2nd weekend as it as last weekend! :blush:

Incredibly moist, tender, juicy Grilled Pork Chop with a strong Lemongrass flavor coming through. Add in some of their Nuoc Mam (Fish Sauce-based Dipping Sauce) over the Steamed Rice and it’s ridiculous! :heart:

The Fried Egg (nice runny Egg Yolk) and Pickled Daikon and Carrots are great accompaniments.

Wonton Charsiu Noodles:

We’re so happy Pearl River Deli decided to bring back their Housemade Wonton Noodles dish this week.

For this 3rd try, their Housemade Wonton Soup (from Chicken, Pork and Shrimp Heads) is about the same as before, light, delicate, it serves as a canvas for the Wontons to shine.

The Egg Noodles are fine, sufficiently springy (when eaten immediately).

But it’s their Housemade Wontons that really are the star: Nice Wonton wrapper, not too soft, and then a delicious, savory Marinated Ground Pork and Shrimp filling. :blush: If there’s one minor quibble, it’s that today’s Wontons tasted fresh and very good, but it lacked that subtle finishing sweetness (as if you were eating Amaebi) that the first weekend’s Wontons had. Like a lingering whisper of an aftertaste that stays with you… it was missing today, but was present in the first 2 times we tried it (during its debut last weekend).

Hopefully it was just a hiccup, because even without that, these Wontons continue to be the best in L.A. right now. :blush:

The Pork Neck Charsiu (as seen above) (as an add-on) were excellent! Moist, meaty, and with enough fatty and lean parts to make it a great accompaniment to the dish. :blush:

(Special) Hainan Chicken Rice:

Chef Johnny Lee’s famous Hainan Chicken Rice makes a return this weekend! :blush:

Ginger Scallion Sauce, Sweet Soy Sauce, Housemade Hot Sauce:

Look at how juicy and succulent the Hainan Chicken looks. :heart: Perfectly poached Chicken, all the more impressive as you notice that the subcutaneous fat has been rendered away, leaving just a tasty bit of tender Poached Chicken Skin with the Chicken Meat.

Every bite was perfectly tender. This is excellent execution. :heart:

The Ginger Scallion Sauce remains our favorite pairing with the Poached Chicken. A great combination.

The Sweet Soy Sauce is just too salty for our tastes (but maybe it has to do with eating lighter at home during COVID-19), and the Housemade Hot Sauce is fine, lightly spicy.

The one misstep on today’s visit was the Hainan Chicken Rice itself: There was a nice Chicken flavor coming through, but it was a bit too salty. Not to the point of “bad” or anything, but since it was saltier than usual (and usually Chef Lee’s Hainan Chicken Rice is lightly seasoned), adding any of the 3 Sauces (that also had Salt in it) pushed it over the edge into too salty territory.

Beef Short Rib, Tendon and Radish Stew:

Seriously ridiculous. :heart:

Mouth-watering, luscious, lip-smacking flavors of Stewed Beef Short Ribs, meaty, fresh-tasting, tender. Then you get the magic of long-stewed Beef Tendon in that excellent Soy Sauce-based Stew, and the Stewed Radish chunks.

Outstanding! :heart:

Pearl River Deli
727 N. Broadway, #130
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (626) 688-9507

(Check their IG for latest specials and updates):


Everything looks great but just curious the pork in the mui choy kau yuk…looks a little pale

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Thanks @JeetKuneBao. Yah, it seems like the Pork Belly was maybe cooked as a whole block in there and then cut into pieces per order? (so the center / each slice wasn’t really soaking in the flavors.)

That looks like the best damn dish of the year!

Yes using the char siu juice over rice is an absolute pleasure!

I am glad you were able to reserve one! I knew you would jump on it, but the odds are so damn bad to get one.

I think that dish really shows off the soul of Canto cooking. So jealous!


Henceforth in tribute of PRD Sorrowful Rice and Stephen Chow, you shall be known as…

Stephen … Chowseeker

Great writeup, thanks!


Hi @JeetKuneBao,

Seriously, I have to thank you (and @PorkyBelly @J_L) for the early reports and introducing it to us! :blush:

It was delicious, and one more incentive for you to hurry on back to L.A. when it’s safe! :wink:


Is Fried Rice usually better when reheated?

We had some leftovers from Pearl River’s tasty Yunnan Fried Rice, and some leftover Sorrowful Rice (just the Rice and that Special Charsiu Sauce for the bowl). (Like @JeetKuneBao in previous visits, there’s plenty of Rice to last for multiple meals.) :wink:

I threw both the Yunnan Fried Rice and the Sorrowful Rice leftover Rice together and sauteed for a few minutes…

It was even better! :open_mouth: :heart: The Dry Aged Ham rendered out a bit more and added more flavor.

(Don’t laugh, we haven’t brought back leftover Fried Rice since I can remember? Just didn’t have the opportunities.)

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Charsiu should always be served over rice.


I love the initial wok hei of a good restaurant fried rice. And it’s something I can’t make at home since I don’t have an outdoor flame wok.

But fried rice generally reheats well especially if you can get your pan hot enough.