If you’re queasy, this aint the post for you. But before you go, here’s one food capture for ya. It’s the most AMAZING com tam (broken rice) dish I’ve ever had. Com Tam Thuan Kieu on Bolsa probably is even better than what Vietnam has to offer. This was a 14 dollar PLATTER that we shared amongst the the 3 of us.
I think I’ll have to go back before I leave tomorrow because this was just that good.. Ladies and gents, this is the Vietnamese version of the Korean Bibimbap and a flavor and texture explosion in your mouth! It aint the fourth of July, but I’m pretty sure there were fireworks going on in my mouth.
Here you have some fried pork skins tossed with toasted blended rice with bits of pork (the stringy looking things), the nem nuong (grilled pork sausage-pink sausages), grilled shrimps, Chinese lap xuong (red sausage), pork eggroll, slice of pork + vermicelli baked egg, fried shrimp in tofu skin (golden square), fried shrimp balls on sugar cane, and korean kalbi ribs. You have your thickly sliced cucumbers with pickled daikon and carrots as a condiment.
The best way to eat this is to scoop some of the broken rice onto your plates and sprinkle some pork skin over it. Then you choose some of your meats and put on some pickled daikon and carrots. Topping it off with some of the fried pork skin and scallion oil + nuoc mam, you definitely have a little bite of Vietnam. The best bite however, would have all of these components in the same mouthful and a bite of cucumber 🙂 YUMMY. The bowl of nuoc leo (clear broth) helps wash everything down. This was one of the best Vietnamese Californian dishes I’ve had so far. The restaurant was very clean and since com tam is in their name, you can bet they’ve mastered the art of delivering an impeccable meal!
Ok my fragile stomach queasy friends, we’re moving to the realm of non traditional picks! This was at Quan Binh Dan. Literally translating to, the place to eat for common people. They serve the non-traditional American selection of things such as intestines, blood pies, blood sausages and so on. Off putting as it may be for many, it’s a way to make sure no part of the animal goes wasted. With the correct preparation and seasonings, this is definitely a place to kick back with some beers, friends, and great conversation, but mind you– you definitely need an open mind for this one! Lucky for me, my parent’s have developed a very Vietnamese palate on me since I was little.
This is Vu De. I don’t know how to translate this better than Anh, ‘Goat Breasts’. Which is quite accurate actually. These were thinly sliced and sautéed with some light seasonings. It came with some onions and pickled daikon and carrots on a bed of lettuce topped with some fried shallots and green onion. There was a bean curd fish sauce that came with this as well we forgot to take a picture of.
Texture wise it was light, but chewy. Almost like you’ve got some meaty cartilage texture. Really interesting and nice to eat with beer.
One of my favorite dishes because of my love for shellfish! These are called blood clams. So huyet nuong. They’re very fat clams, super juicy that have been broiled and topped with green onion, sambal, fried onions, and peanuts. It was a good mouthful of clam that exploded when you bit into them. I always try and get these when I come here. Delicious. I snuck one to eat before I took the picture heh.
This is called long truong. They’re pork intestines, and I’ve never really had them with the black center. I guess it’s closer to the you know what. This is a textural thing, but with the right dipping sauce, was also a pleasant thing to snack on whilst drinking my beer.
Yummy and refreshing! This was supposed to be De Tai Chanh, but it was more of Goi De. De Tai Chanh is typically raw goat sliced thinly with some herbs and vegetables, seasoned, and cooked with lime juice. Goi De is a salad with goat, and this is actually what this was more like. The goat was completely cooked and it had an amazing mixture of fresh herbs like mint, basil, and Vietnamese coriander. There were onion slivers as well as some red peppers. It came topped with some peanuts and fried shallot. This was a very nice contrast and a good balancing fresh element to our hearty dinner. The skin on the goat on this dish was similar to be thui’s skin. It was chewy and gelatinous. Super noms!
You got the balls to try this? You will after you finish this at least! This was called ‘De Ngoc Duong’. De is goat, Ngoc means some sort of gem or jewel, and Duong mean’s king. King’s Jewels 🙂 Get it? These jewels were cooked in a concoction of ‘thuoc bac’, medicinal herbs. To eat this, you get some noodles and scoop some of the soup with the jewels into your bowl. This dish was actually really pleasant and my first time trying them. The guys joked about how this dish was to help the manhood, and I wasn’t the one that needed it.
There were different bits of the Ngoc Duong. There was a more fatty cartilage piece which was no different in terms on texture as beef tendons. They were cooked perfectly so it was still crunchy. without being completely gelatinous. Then you had the cartilage only pieces, less of the fat, more cartilage. And finally the real jewels. They were the white milky looking pieces that were very clean tasting and soft. The broth’s medicinal quality was very subtle and sweet. It had a deep umami sweetness and went very well with noodles.
We definitely had a little bit of too much fun making our balls deep jokes for the night.
Here was our first spread. This was before all of our dishes came out. It’s good to note that each dish has it’s own version of dipping sauce. This is very important in Vietnamese cuisine. Knowing what type of dipping sauces goes with what is a necessary skill to have to understand what flavors enhances your dish.
My favorite long doi ever!!!!!! These are pork blood sausages! with different organ meats and fat chopped up mixed with some herbs, light seasonings and fresh pork blood, these babies are cased in pork intestines and steamed/boiled. Our rendition here are fried, because how can you go wrong with fried pork blood sausages? These were incredibly flavorful, rich, and just wow! The pork fat and rich iron-y blood complement each other so well. This place will now be on my bucket list as a have to visit restaurant.
A hole in the wall with sticky tables, only 4 tables, and 1 waiter, but definitely a jewel with jewels, goat jewels!
Here’s a close up with the Ngoc Duong noodles.
Saving the best for last! This iron rich beauty is called Tiet Canh. It’s raw blood mixed with fish sauce and water. Organs, meat, fat, and some herbs are chopped up very small and spread out on a plate. Then the blood mixture is quickly poured on top before it coagulates. These are set for some time and then the coagulation finally takes place creating a fine Vietnamese blood pizza. We had the duck and the goat version. They look the same but have subtle differences with the taste of blood. I preferred the duck which was a sweeter less gamier version.
To eat this, you tear up your favorite herbs and break apart some ‘Banh Da’ (black sesame rice crackers) on top of your herbs. Then you spoon a nice serving of the Tiet Canh on top of your Banh Da. You finish with a generous squeeze of lime and mix it all up. I like to eat this with fresh whole garlic and some thai peppers. Biting into your pepper first to get some of the heat, eating this cool blood salad is simply spectacular. A feast for the blood thirsty kings and queens out there. My beer never tasted so good.