Eat Drink Style Lipton Pure Leaf Presents...

a lot of free tea for anyone that happened to be at the Celebrity Food Show at the Anaheim Hilton this past weekend. We were asked by a PR firm to represent the Lipton Pure Leaf booth and pass out some samples. The week before, we were blessed with three 18-bottle boxes of various teas from Lipton. Why tea you ask? Believe it or not, there is a whole trend in tea pairings with food. I only knew of iced tea to be a sort of chaser for hard alcohol, but who knew you could pair iced tea with things like sushi. Anyway, we arrived on the final day of the convention and you could see that everyone was exhausted after two full-house days. I was dying for some food, only to find stuff like salsas, chocolate and more salsa and chocolate. Oh yeah, and about 50 types of olive oils. Not a great combo all together, but who doesn't like a free sample.

You may recognize this man from Hell's Kitchen – Aaron. He will be back on Season 4 of the show and ready to take more of Ramsey's orders. Chef Aaron closed the show with a cooking demo that included various foods from Ramsey's LA-project, London. He made lobster spaghetti, macadamia-encrusted scallops and a mojito made with, you guessed it, Lipton iced tea. If you missed this, look forward to the Western Food Expo this weekend at the LA Convention Center. Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style "C" Means "Clean Enough" - Sapp Coffee Shop, Thai Town

Again I'm back on Hollywood Blvd. whoring for the perfect bowl of Thai Boat Noodles in Thai Town. My last 2 experiences at Yai and Red Corner Asia were satisfactory, with Yai reigning supreme over RCA. RCA really didn't do it for me.

J and I were headed to a wine tasting at Silverlake Wine and craved a bowl of noodles before we got liquored up. I was craving Thai Boat while she was in pursuit of a good bowl of roasted/bbq duck noodles. After a year of corresponding with Yoony of Immaeatchu through the food blog, we felt it was time to finally meet the young lady behind the delicious cooking. She and Santos of Meet Me At the Corner of Third & Fairfax got us hyped on this current Thai food spree.

A friend of mine recommended Sapp Coffee Shop because she knows how much i love Thai Boat Noodles. For those that haven't had this, it's almost like pho with the beef parts, but the soup is brown and much thicker. Why is it thicker? It's because authentic TBN's are made with beef and pork blood. Don't close this window just yet - it's tastier than you think. The result of incorporating blood is a nice gravy-like soup that is packed with flavor.

Sapp Coffee Shop is a favorite of young people because it's known as a diner, with rice and noodle dishes and a list of delectable Thai drinks. Although Sapp Coffee Shop is a Thai restaurant, the word 'sapp' is Laotian for 'tasty, delicious'. And rightfully so.

J, Yoony and I met at 7 pm and piled into this hole-in-wall restaurant marked with a "C". But don't mind the "C", it really means 'clean enough'. If you're a prude, ambiance-seeking eater, you probably shouldn't be frequenting Asian restaurants PERIOD. After all, Asian restaurants are all about the food. After about 10 minutes of chatting, we picked up the menu to order food. The girls both got the dry roasted duck noodles which they fell in love with at Yai. I, of course, got the TBN's. Here's what we thought.

BBQ Duck Noodles (Dry)
J and Yoony overall liked this dish at Yai more because there was duck sauce on the bottom of the bowl. The duck is served warm here, while Yai's is cold-cut style. The noodles were cooked too long - giving it a mushy texture. If you look closely at the photo, you can see the sugar UNMIXED into the dish. If there was any sauce at all, it would've dissolved the sugar. Presentation wise - Sapp Coffee Shop loses points. No one wants to see unmixed ingredients in the dish. But after they mixed up the contents of the dish, they both quietly enjoyed the noodles. $4.75

Thai Boat Noodles (kũay tĩaw reua néua thúk yàang)
As soon as I saw the server with my bowl of TBN's, I rubbed my hands together. I always do that. She set the bowl down and my eyes lit up. My nostrils enlarged. Man, this smelled so good. I didn't even have to dip my spoon into the broth to know how thick and savory it was. I could see small chunks of beef and boiled blood pieces inside the broth - a sign that this was true beef broth. I could smell soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, cilantro and green onions. Very nice. I didn't get the works which includes liver and tripe - instead I stuck with beef slices, beef balls, beef tendon and fried pork skins (chicharrones). $4.75

Thai Boat Noodles (kũay tĩaw reua néua thúk yàang)
I lifted up the noodles from the broth and noticed that the noodles stuck together. Another sign that the broth was thick - yum. If you look closely a the noodles, you can see the beef and boiled blood bits. I was going to get the beef taste in every bite. I let J and Yoony try some and they both liked it. J agreed that it was better than Yai and RCA's. I devoured this bowl in about 10 minutes and actually thought about getting another bowl. If you're into full flavored noodles, I highly recommend the TBN's here at Sapp. There are afew TBN options and Sapp doesn't mind you customizing your own bowl of beef with different beef parts. You can also choose pork instead of beef. If you want roasted/bbq duck noodles, go over to Yai, which is down the street. $5.50

Nevermind the 'C' rating here, I give Sapp Coffee Shop an 'A'. Hurry on over here, they close at 8:30 every night and rest on Wednesdays. Here is another review by a Sapp fan from the LTH Forum.

Sapp Coffee Shop
5183 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 665-1035

Eat Drink Style Tantalizing Tofu

I went over to Zen Grill on 3rd & La Cienega with a friend and ordered the Tofu Steak with Veggies. Disappointed by the fact that it was super greasy, soggy and salty, I put it on myself to cook a better tasting, more delectable tofu steak. I started out by patting the tofu cubes (regular tofu) dry. You can cut them diagonally for presentation. I used two pieces and made a quick batter by using tapioca starch (corn works as well), water and salt. Mixed it till I achieved a medium-thick consistency. After frying the tofu about 7-8 minutes each side, I served it with a sesame/miso dressing I got from Mitsuwa market with some grilled veggies. It’s so good. I put the dressing on everything. Add a little furikake seasoning on the tofu. Enjoy.

Eat Drink Style My New Toy: The Wok - Beef Chow Fun & Beef Chow Mein (Crispy) Recipe

In a conversation that extended over 15+ emails, Kirk of Mmm-Yoso and Elmo of Elmomonster convinced me that the Big Kahuna Burner was a good investment for wok cooking and that I wouldn't be going to jail for involuntary arson. (They both own it too). For only $49.99 off Amazon, this burner reaches BTU's as high as 55,000. Just how high is that? The stove burner you use daily averages 5,000 to 8,000 BTU's. For so long I wondered why I couldn't achieve that same restaurant-quality taste with Chinese food. Why was the food cooked on the outside so beautifully, yet so gummy-tender on the indside? Why was there such a different, indescribable taste to the food that used the same ingredients I had used at home? And why did food come out in less than 5 minutes? It's called 'wok hay', the 'heat/energy of the wok'. The wok, when burning hot, sears/singes the meat nicely on the outside and adds a taste unachievable on a 10" Emeril pot and home stove. The domed shape of the wok distributes heat faster than the flat surface of a pan. (I got my 16" wok at a restaurant supply store in San Gabriel for only $9. It's decent.) Combining rocket-boosting heat and domed cookware, you get Asian-style cooking.

In Chinese, 'chow fun' means fried rice noodles and 'chow mein' means fried egg noodles. Fresh 'fun' noodles are shown on the left. Their made with rice, starch and water and come oiled up to keep from drying in room temperature and are already pre-sliced. 'Fun' noodles require the most labor because it is necessary to separate each strand of noodle for equal cooking. On the right is steamed 'chow mein'. Do not confuse these with wonton egg noodles, which come heavily doused in flour. If you were to use wonton egg noodles for the 'Beef Chow Mein' dish, they wouldn't turn out out too well because of the high flour content. Also, if you add liquids to the dish, the noodles will become thick and gooey. Not good. Steaming egg noodles removes the flour and making it easier for pan frying. 'Fun' is $1.79 a pack and 'mein' is $1.59 a pack at most Asian markets.

The key to cooking Asian stir fry and noodle dishes is having everything prepped out. I've been over to my Uncle's restaurant to watch him cook and their walk-in fridge is stocked with prepped out food. He punches out orders in less than 3 minutes because everything is ready to go. I combined the ingredients for both dishes.

Marinating the beef:
- Flank steak
- Rice Wine/Sherry (Shao Xing)
- Oil
- Salt
- White Pepper (Chinese rarely use black pepper)
- Chicken Bouillon Powder
- Corn starch

Mix those up well and let it steep for at least 30 minutes.

For Beef Chow Fun, you need:
- Green onions (green part 2.5"-3")
- Bean sprouts (handful)

For Beef Chow Mein, you need:
- Greens like Yau Choy or Gai-Lan (Chinese Broccoli)
- Green onion stalks (thick slices)
- Straw Mushrooms (canned)
- Carrots (cut into rhombus-shape)
- Ginger (cut into rhombus-shape)
- Garlic

The sauce aisle is probably the most overwhelming section of the Asian market. Who knew that they could fill up one long aisle with soy sauce, oyster sauces and oil. It'll take a while finding these if you don't already have them. You'll need soy sauce, dark soy sauce (aka mushroom soy sauce), oyster sauce and sesame oil. Disregard the jar on the left.

After prepping everything, I spent a good 10 minutes bringing out all the equipment/sauces I needed to the area in front of my apartment. Never wok cook inside a kitchen unless you have an overhead, proper stove and fire extinguisher. Those flames could catch oil and wreak havoc. Plus the smell of smoke can be overwhelming. I stood there for a few minutes getting myself ready for this mentally. There isn't a lot of time to think and you must act fast. I opened the gas valve on the propane tank and could see the gas slowly fill out throught the tube. I then opened the control valve for the burner and I immediately heard hissing. I used a stick lighter and ignited the burner. Whooom! Ok, here we go. Here's what went down.

Beef Chow Fun
Add a little oil and swirl it around the wok. It should take no longer than 30-45 seconds for the oil to smoke. Toss the beef in and stir it around. Once it's cooked through about 60%, take it out. Toss the noodles in and stir. In about 2-3 minutes, they'll be cooked. Simply add the beef back in along with bean sprouts, green onions and a few pieces of ginger. Add dark soy sauce to achieve that recognizable 'beef chow fun' color. *Note, dark soy sauce really has no taste and it's only used for coloring. Soy sauce is used for taste along with salt and white pepper. Add some soy sauce and sugar to taste. You're done when the green onions and bean sprouts are wilted. This dish came out delicious except for the fact that I used too much sugar. It kinda tasted like Thai "pad see eew". The beef was cooked about 85% with a few pieces showing some rareness, which I don't mind. Next round, I'm adding less sugar and more ginger.

Beef Chow Mein
First, add a cup of oil into the wok for shallow frying the egg noodles. Fry each side for about 2 minutes and watch that you don't burn it. It should be a light golden brown. Take it out once you're done. Throw the beef in and stir - cook 50% through and dump about 2 cups of water to make the gravy. Add dark soy sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper and sugar to taste. Once you get the right taste, throw the beef back in and add corn starch mixture (water/corn starch) to thicken the gravy. Next toss in the carrots, straw mushrooms and yau choy. Cook for about another 2 mins. Add about 2-3 drops of sesame oil and pour the gravy over your perfectly fried noodles. I did none of this. I really messed up on this dish because I didn't add enough water to make the gravy. The noodles were fried decently, yet I ran into some uncooked parts. The soy sauce I added had caramelized, giving it a gooey/burnt taste. No good. For the next round, I am mixing all of the sauces together into one pot.

I didn't realize how much practice is needed for wok cooking. My arms are sore from lifting the wok. Prepping this dish is the most crucial element because you really don't have much time to think/act. Overall, I'm very happy with the purchase of the Big Kahuna Burner and unhappy with the way the 'Beef Chow Mein' turned out. Stay tuned for Round 2. Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style A Night On Melrose

My friend Michelle and I decided we should do Melrose Night. We were going to the 1988 Gallery for an exhibit and decided to fill up at Lala’s Argentine Grill and get drinks at the Larchmont afterwards. I was in the mood for Mario’s Peruvian & Seafood but they shut down at 8pm. Lala’s it was. A few of my co-workers introduced me to Tango Grill in West Hollywood and told me that Lala’s was better. And I couldn’t agree more.

We quickly valeted the car and were immediately greeted and seated. Lala’s wore a romantic, sepia interior with candles on every table and sung Argentinean songs under the sound of the indistinct voices of other diners. I thought to myself, too bad she’s just a friend or else we’d… *Wink.

As we looked over the menu, we were served some warm baguette bread with an herb/oil dip. I believe it was called “rovini”. It consisted of parsley, thyme, garlic, garlic, garlic, red pepper flakes and more garlic. Absolutely delicious. Like the Stinking Rose’s dip, I could’ve made a meal out of it. We asked for a third round.

We started out with the Tortilla de Papas, which is a potato and onion quiche. Basically a sweet potato pie with lots of butter and garlic. Yum. To spice it up a little, we topped it off with more rovini.

I ordered the popular Argentinean dish, “Milanesa”, which is a thin, deep-fried battered steak. It’ll score you some points on the cholesterol meter, but hey, once in a while is okay. To add more artery points, I got the “Milanesa Napolitana” ($12.95). It’s the same fried steak with a warm, basil red/cream sauce topped with melted cheese. My arteries! I actually removed the cheese. It was too much. My friend ordered the “Al Champignon” ($10.95), a grilled chicken steak with parsley and garlic flavored mushrooms. On top of that, we both got a 1/2 order of fries and mashed potatoes for our entrees. And a little salsa. The mashed potatoes are loaded with butter and garlic. Probably the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had… next to wasabi flavored mash. I didn’t even touch the fries because I had eaten the whole quiche.

Total damage for tonight was only $31.75 with appetizer and drinks. What a great deal. I admire places that don’t skimp on portions. I have to admit that it was too much of a visit to Deep Fried City. Like I said, please limit yourself to Lala’s. Your arteries will thank you. I think I’ll just have the grilled chicken next time and substitute the fries/mashed potatoes for a salad. The steaks also look amazing.

Lala’s is a great place for a date because of the ambiance and you’ll really enjoy the food. There’s outdoor seating as well, for those that like to people-watch on Melrose. Enjoy.

Lala’s Argentine Grill
7229 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 934-6838

Eat Drink Style Palate Food & Wine, Glendale - Dining in David Lynch's Dining Room

Palate Glendale Menu

***Update 8/8/08***
Since writing this posting, I actually came here another two times in the SAME week. I've added a few more dishes and sat in a different part of this large restaurant. Right now, they are having wine tastings from 5-8 pm on Fridays and 2-5 on Saturdays for a limited time only. I can tell you that the back dining/bar area by the wine shop is a ton of fun. And not to mention that the flight of wines are complimentary. Sign me up please.

You know when you're a kid, your brain is like a sponge – soaking in everything and anything around you. You're told certain things. You're told to act a certain way. You're told to trust whatever elders tell you. Naivete is a part of the learning process that dissipates at different rates for everyone. As for soaking up things, I had a hard time putting disturbing things I have seen in the trash can side of my memory. There are two movies that have not left the better half of me because they are just not right – 'The Shining' and David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks'. Actually, I consider all of David Lynch's films to be unsuitable for a child's bedtime story. I can't remember what 'Twin Peaks' was about but there was this one scene that was just STRANGE. There was a midget in this large room decked out in black & white checkered tiling. He came from behind some heavy red drapes and insisted the viewer to sit down next to his green formica table. It made no sense – to anyone but Lynch of course. I don't know why I found it so disturbing but I still remember it vividly. And on a warm evening in July, Jeni and I decided to go out for dinner for our 2-year anniversary. It was a promising night of delectable food from an ex-Patina chef by the name of Octavio Becerra, wine from a place that not only sold and served wine, but also provided storage for those that have exhausted their Vinotemps. But all that was to change upon stepping into a place called Palate Food & Wine in Glendale.

I stepped in with J and we were immediately puzzled by the decor of this place. Very unique! All of a sudden I felt like I was in a David Lynch set. To my left was the hostess' stand. I was expecting that same midget man with a mini suit and hat to come around the corner of the stand any minute now, tapping me on my knee... asking if I had reservations and leading me to some green formica table. The dining area gave off this strong pink hue. The black & white checkered floors were now black & pink checkers. Large canvas prints with something that resembled a close-up of a biochemical lab experiment. Giant vases of grapes that only seemed to live in Alice's Wonderland. Lastly, large candles that seemed to make their way here from a Transylvanian yard sale. But I've never been into decor, so I'll have to toss the Lynch card out on this one because we heard SO MUCH about the food.

Palate Glendale Interior

Palate Glendale Candle

Palate Glendale Bartender - Antoine

Given the option to sit at the bar or eat with David Lynch, we chose the former. We were kindly greeted by the bartender, or sommelier, Antoine, who looked sharp and knowledgeable on wines. The wine prices here at Palate are really reasonable. We started off with a bottle of riesling that cost no more than $40, but was so nice and crisp. Just ask Antoine for it by name...
Schäfer-Fröhlich Riesling Spätlese Halbtrocken Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen.

Palate Glendale Bread

What kind of butter is this? It can't be Darigold, that's for sure because it was served at the perfect temperature with a dash of Fleur de Sel. Nice!

Palate Glendale Porkfolio

I really find food puns annoying, but you know what, because the selection here was very good, I'm letting it slide. Included in this 'porkfolio' (*sigh), were prosciutto san daniele, speck di alto adige and salumi gentile.

Palate Glendale Nectarines

Something Pickled... Nectarines
This goes very well with the following dish. Pickled, sweet and textural.

Palate Glendale Mason Jars

Potted Berkshire Pork - Mason Jar

I didn't know you could mason-jar things other than jam or honey. I found my new pork-love and it's totally not good for you. These are called 'pork rillettes' and are a type of force-meats. Pork is chopped up, salted for a few hours to overnight and then cooked in its own fat. After it is shredded, it is refridgerated, allowing the fat to coagulate, creating a creamy padding of fat all around the beef. I watched J as she used her butterknife to smother some pork paste on to the bread, add cheese and porkfolio on it for 'garnish'. How can you not love a woman that is so sure about the decisions she makes? This was absolutely delicious. I put Josef Centeno's (formerly of Lot 1 Cafe) right behind Chef Becerra's.

Palate Glendale Rabbit

Lapin (Rabbit) - Mason Jar
Another deadly yet lovely sin bottled up in a jar. The rabbit tends to have a leaner, lighter flavor to it compared to the gluttonous Berkshire pork. I did enjoy this and will eventually be trying the whole potted collection. But for me, I'd pick pork over almost anything.

Palate Glendale Albacore Salad

Albacore Confit Salad
Antoine explained that the tuna is 'confit-ed' overnight. The result is a moist, chicken-like taste to the albacore tuna. The salad is brought together with a VERY bright vinaigrette which really wakes the palate up like a hair-of-the-dog drink at 7 am.

Palate Glendale Summer Truffles

Summer Truffles with Poached Egg & Cream
Saying no to this dish is like turning down a double date with Natalie Portman and Scartlett Johannson. I fall weak when it comes to anything with eggs. The wine director kindly explained to me how this classic French dish is made. In a little jar, an egg is added to cream along with romano cheese. It is then tempered in boiling water for 7 minutes and then garnished with paper thin slices of summer truffles. I'm not really into truffles because of its strong aroma, but the appropriate usage of it in this simple, yet classic dish makes palatable sense. I can eat a dozen of these. I watched J, who doesn't really like eggs, eat hers and waited for her to pass it on to me. Smile.

Palate Glendale Corn Ravioli

Corn Ravioli
Another dish I cannot say no to... corn PLUS ravioli. Chef Becerra told us that before he worked for Patina, he worked in France and Italy and I'm pretty sure this is a dish that was made shortly after his trip back to the U.S. The ravioli dough is really nice – chewy and textural from the quick boiling. The corn inside is pureed and goes well with the butteriness of this dish.

Palate Glendale Scallops

Seared Scallops & Shelled Beans
Come to think of it, there isn't anything out there that I WON'T eat. I know I love eggs and corn, but I forgot to add that I adore scallops. To me, they bring back that nostalgic feeling of eating tater tots in 3rd grade. Another great dish.

Palate Glendale Veal Breast

Veal Breast and Spätzle
As I was shooting this photograph, the compound butter on top started to melt and slowly glided over the veal cliff. This is a sexy dish. Braised veal, chewy spätzle, spinach and a savoy reduction sauce. Excuse me, Antoine, where is the nearest hotel room?

Palate Glendale Pork Belly

Pork Belly with Faro & Cherries
And this is the reason why I rip up my bloodtest results. I live for pork belly. Before we even looked at the menu, we knew we were going to order this because it had mentioned so many times on reviews. And I could see why. Although the ratio of fat to pork was a bit unbalanced, the crisp texture of the perfectly fried skin, reduction sauce and moistness of the meat made me wish I could dive into this. I have to say, out of the 10-12 times I've tried some variation of pork belly, this one makes me kow-tow to the chef. Given another bottle of wine from Antoine, I might have done that, much to J's disappointment.

Palate Glendale Rabbit2

I love rabbit but almost everytime I eat it, it's dry. *Dylan gets down from his stool and assumes the kow-tow position* Yes, another delectable dish. You can see the beautiful pink hue of the meat, a sign of well cooked game. Also within the meat, I believe is ground rabbit mixed with nuts and herbs. All this plated over some buttery polenta.

Our bill came out to $140. If you take out the two bottles of wine, we pretty much only spent $60-70 on food, and we were full. Palate definitely offers some great food and wine at great prices. We then met the manager, who gladly gave us a tour of the restaurant, wine store and wine vault area. I can tell you that the Lynch decor didn't stop there, but it all made sense. The decor was a reflection of the variety of palatable foods Becerra offers. The decor is unique, but not tacky. The flavors are everywhere, but done in a unique way. Nothing is too over the top, and nothing is too dull. I 'got it' afterwards. I was also very drunk.

Palate Glendale Lamb

Palate Glendale Wineshop2

Palate Glendale Wineshop

Palate Glendale Octavio Becerra

Two thumbs up for the people of Palate Food & Wine. I have you marked down on my calendar for a future dinner very soon and I can't wait. I highly recommend sitting at the bar and talking to Antoine – he's cool. Thanks for reading. And thank you David Lynch for disturbing the hell out of me for so many years.

Palate Food & Wine
933 South Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91204
(818) 662-9463

Eat Drink Style A Little Trip to Little Saigon for the Little One - Little Saigon, Westminster

In about a month, I will become Uncle ED&BM. My younger sister is going to be giving birth to a baby boy and I’m extremely stoked. It’s hard to imagine that the same sister I had punished, beaten up, teased and tormented as a kid is now a fully grown woman. It’s really amazing knowing that your sibling is moving onto the next stage in life. My dad and I just bought her a crib and stroller and headed down to OC to set everything up for her. It’s been a while since we’ve eaten in OC, so we decided this would be a day to absorb the wonderful food of Little Saigon.

During my years at UCI, my diet revolved around tasteless dorm food, Del Taco, Sriracha hot dogs and pseudo-Asian food. But once in a while, I would make a trip down to Little Saigon for pho. I usually ate this around 3 am at this one 24-hour joint, drunk. Pho is truly the world’s best hangover, well, besides drinking more alcohol to rid the headaches.

One of my favorite places to eat at is Quan Hy, which serves Central Vietnamese food. What’s the difference between Central and say, North/South food? The absence of Pho. If you’re looking for pho here, you won’t find it because it’s not their regional specialty. Instead, you’ll find something called Bun Bo Hue which has way more flavor than pho. It’s a soup noodle dish served with thicker, spaghetti-like vermicelli and pork hocks/beef. The soup has a sweeter, lemongrass taste which can be smelled from the other side of the restaurant. So good. Quan Hy is known for its nice interior and a popular choice for younger people. It’s not unusual to endure a 30+ minute wait here, but I think it’s definitely worth it. When we got here, we were behind 9 other parties. I sat down with my Dad and sister and pointed out a decoration that was a lawsuit waiting to happen. Upon entering, you’ll be walking over a small wooden bridge that leads to the hosts’ booth. The pond is only about a few inches deep but let me tell you, you can film Vietnam’s Funniest Videos here. Everytime I’ve been here, I’ve seen someone step into the pond. The shallow water and rocks are quite deceiving. It sucks, but it’s funny.

Sister: “Can you go get me some bottled water? I can’t drink tap water.”
Me: “Sure. Hey, watch that bridge. I bet you someone is going to eat it.”
Sister: “Really, it’s so shallow.”
Me: “Just watch dude.”

I went to a small bakery and bought my sister some water. On the way back, my sister called me on my cell phone. I picked up and I could hear her laughing. I was right. Someone had taken a quick afternoon swim in the 6” pond. When I walked in, it was so messy. Water everywhere! So future Quan Hy patrons, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Quan Hy is alive and bustling with peoples voices and music. It’s decorated with bamboo and random art and definitely has a warm feeling. The place is heavily staffed with waiters, busboys and people working the drink bar. Here’s what we had:

A. Banh Beo - These steamed rice cakes are what people pile in here for. This beautifully presented dish consists of rice cakes with shredded shrimp and fried shallots and is served with tasty fish sauce. I once ate three of these trays (24 banh beos!) Definitely try these. $4.75

B. Bun Thit Nuong Nem Lui - This dish is served in every pho restaurant, but Quan Hy's is slightly different because of the noodles used. The vermicelli noodles are typically thicker than your standard rice noodles. This isn't the best 'Bun Thit Nuong' I've eaten but still tasty. The grilled pork has a nice lemongrass and mint taste. The shrimp paste is moist and has a nice bite to it. $6.95

C. Bun Bo Hue - This is a Central Vietnamese favorite. This dish originates from the Hue region of Vietnam and comes with one large pork hock and thick slices of beef tendon/shank. Try this! The flavor of the soup is great and you'll see this on everyone's table. Even after my sister finished it, I managed to finish all of her soup. Served with shredded romaine and cabbage, not like the bean sprouts that are provided with Pho. $5.75

D. Bun Bo Dac Biet Cha Tom - Same soup and noodles as C but with pork and shrimp patties. Very good. $6.75

Quan Hy is typically more expensive than your average Vietnamese joint, but this comes with a nicely decorated restaurant that attracts a younger crowd.

Next, we headed to the largest mall in Little Saigon known as the Asian Garden Mall (Phuoc Loc Tho). In here, you'll find a lot of jewelry shops, karaoke stores and clothing shops. If you're not into finding a gold necklace, Saigon's Top 40 and clothes I wouldn't be caught wearing, you can circle around the food court. There are about 10 different places to get food and drinks, but my favorite is Dakao. Dakao serves a light noodle dish called Banh Cuon, which can be rolled into a crepe with ground pork/mushrooms or served as plain rice sheets. For $4.75, you can get these noodles with a few slices of homemade pork meatloaf (gio lua), crispy mung bean bread and fish sauce. I get this everytime I'm here.

A. Dakao - It's on the westside of the food court which is located in the middle of the shopping center.

B. Banh Cuon Dakao - No need to say this tongue twister, just point at the large photo and order!

C. Banh Cuon Noodles - Starting from the top left, you can see the slices of pork meatloaf (so good!), ground pork/mushroom banh noodles, plain banh noodle sheets and sweet porkballs on a skewer. It's a lot of fun looking at the food at Vietnamese places - they seriously put out nice colorful spreads.

D. Crispy Mung Bean Bread - Crisp and crunchy; goes well with the soft texture of the fresh banh noodles.

Since I don't come to Little Saigon much anymore, might as well go to all the places I like to eat at. That brings us to another Central Vietnamese restaurant named Brodard, located on Westminster/Brookhurst behind the 99 Cent Store. Like Quan Hy, it's decorated nicely and serves food you don't typically see in a standard Pho restaurant. Central Vietnamese food has a heavy French influence because of the colonization, and its inherent in the menu. Brodard's specialty is their Nem Nuong Cuons (Pork Spring Rolls). You've all had the shrimp spring roll, but this totally kicks its ass. Savory grilled pork is served inside the rice wrapper with a crispy egg roll skin, romaine and chive. They do not serve this with the hoisin/peanut sauce or fish sauce. Instead, you get this fish sauce, coconut milk, ground pork and Sriricha chili sauce - it's great. I once asked the lady at the counter about its ingredients and she just stared at me with no reply. Pushed the wrong button I guess. I usually come here to order the spring rolls to go. For those that have been here, Brodard also opened up the Brodard Chateau which I have yet to try. Looks really nice from the photos.

A. Brodard - Don't be fooled by the ugly non-descript building. It's a nice dining experience.

B. Grubbing in Session - I usually have to wait a good 15 minutes here for a table.

C. Spring Roll Technician - I was being eyed by the people in the kitchen as I took the photos. I like that they have a side window for the curious. I made these same exact rolls for a catering event and they were devoured. I simply used fish sauce because I couldn't figure out their sauce.

D. Rolls to Die For - These are seriously addicting. I was drunk once and ate about 7 of these. I couldn't move. 3 for $3.75.

We ate so much food today. I ate 2 more egg rolls and 1 pork spring roll while driving. By the time we got to my sister's place, my Dad and I were tired. We eventually got everything setup and said goodbye to the expectant mother. She was very happy with the food we ate today, and I'm sure baby Taylor was too. My nephew won't be eating mac n' cheese and lunchables, he's gonna be well-fed as long as I'm his babysitter. Thanks for reading.

Quan Hy
9727 Bolsa Ave
Westminster, CA 92683
(714) 775-7179
*Also a location in Garden Grove

Asian Garden Mall (Phuoc Loc Tho)
9200 Bolsa Avenue
Westminster, CA
(714) 842-8018

Brodard Nem Nuong Restaurant
9892 Westminster Ave, Suite R (Behind 99 Cent Store)
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 530-1744
*Also try Brodard Chateau