Friday, June 17, 2011

Northern Vietnamese Cuisine at Vien Dong (Garden Grove, CA)

To raise money for the earthquake relief efforts in Japan, Wandering Chopsticks led a North to South Vietnamese tour in Little Saigon. I joined her and her readers who had each donated $50 to specific charities for the first parts of the tour. We started at Vien Dong in Garden Grove for Northern Vietnamese food.

While waiting for WC's other readers to arrive, we ordered some Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring/Egg Rolls). The cha gio here is made with rice paper, which is both crispy yet maintains some chewiness when fried. This is the traditional wrapper used in Vietnam.


PhotobucketBeing a long and late day, I had to get some Ca Phe Sua Da. They brought it out in a mini coffee press laying on top of a cup of condensed milk. It wasn't until then that I realize just how much condensed milk is in this drink! No wonder it's so tasty...

We shared an order of Banh Tom which are Vietnamese Shrimp and Yam Fritters with a turmeric batter.

Most of the dishes we tried here were new to me, and among my favorites was the Cha Ca Thang Long (Vietnamese Hanoi-Style Turmeric Fish with Dill)
The best part with going to eat Vietnamese food with WC is of course the knowledge you gain from her. She said that dill is mostly not used in Vietnamese food other than in the Northern part, and this dish originated from a restaurant in Hanoi which became so popular that the street is now named after the restaurant (Cha Ca). Apparently non-Northerners consider using dill strange, but I certainly liked it!
She also showed us how to eat the fish with this crispy rice paper covered in sesame seeds.
I also enjoyed the fish sauce-soaked Bun Cha Hanoi Nem Ran (Vietnamese Hanoi-Style Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Pork Patties and Egg Rolls)

We tried quite a few noodle soups, and Vien Dong has quite an interesting selection including
Bun Bung (Vietnamese spare ribs noodle soup with plantains, tofu, and taro stem).

If you're adventurous, do try the Bun Oc (Vietnamese Snail Noodle Soup). The chewy sea snails are great with the tomato-based broth.
I discovered so many new and interesting things during this first visit to Vien Dong. A big thanks to Wandering Chopsticks for leading us on our tour and introducing us to the diversity of Vietnamese cuisine. Next is the Central and South Central Vietnamese cuisine!

Vien Dong
14271 Brookhurst St
Garden Grove, CA 92843
(714) 531-8253
Vien Dong on Urbanspoon


Joshua Lurie

It's been way too long since my last visit to Vien Dong. This post will definitely motivate a return trip.

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