I spent my 2021 winter vacation in California to reunite with my college friends who are also PhD students in other U.S universities. Just like me, they were also craved for Vietnamese food so we decided to make a road trip to LA and enjoy Vietnamese food in Orange County. Shout out to my two PhD girls for making the plan come true!
And pardon me for poor photography skill!
Hue Oi Restaurant
16537 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708
On our 1st day arrived at Orange county, the weather was a bit chilly and rainy, and coincidentally all of us craved for spicy beef noodle soup so we tried this place with good Hue-style dishes. Quite good, actually.
Phuc Long Coffee and Tea
12932 Main St, Garden Grove, CA 92840
Back to when we were in college, we usually visit this shop and sit for several hours to do school work, or just have some talks. This brand is very popular in Vietnam, especially tea with beautiful aroma. We were glad to visit its location in the U.S and enjoy the taste of memory again!
We ordered longan jasmine tea and black milk tea, which were our favorite drinks there.
Credit of photo: Au Nguyen
9211 Bolsa Ave #119, Westminster, CA 92683
Some other dishes that we were craving for were “Banh Cuon” (me, I wanted to have it) and “Bun Rieu”.
- “Banh cuon” is a dish that very thin steamed rice sheets with ground pork and minced black mushroom rolled inside, and they would be dipped in sweet fish sauce (photo on the right).
- In “Bun Rieu”, rice noodle served with hot tomato broth, with crab, pork and fried tofu as topping (photo in the middle). Those savory tastes were what we had been long for.
9393 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683
On our 4th day, the weather was still rainy, haha, and my friend could finally have her favorite “Banh Xeo” (Sizzling pan cake, photo on the left). We also had “Ca kho to” (Caramelized-braised catfish, photo in the middle) and “My xao gion” (Stir-fry crispy noodle, photo on the right).
- “Banh Xeo” is made of a batter of rice flour, water and tumeric to have that characteristic yellow color; the filling inside could be vary: seafood, pork, or mushroom with mung bean sprouts. And by its name, the cake is crispy, and we would wrap it inside some lettuce and dip in a sweet and spicy fish sauce to enjoy.
- “Ca kho to” was served in a clay pot, together with hot rice. This dish is considered as a popular main dish in Vietnam, and is a perfect match to a sweet and sour soup (Canh chua) in our daily meals. This dish was good, but sadly, not as I expected so I will make at home soon.
- “My xao gion” (Stir-fry crispy noodle, photo on the right) was simply awesome.
Bien Hen Seafood & Hotpot
14092 Magnolia St, Westminster, CA 92683
On our last day, the weather was still rainy! This kind of cold weather was suitable for friends to enjoy hotpot together (which we usually did back to college time) so we should not miss that! We ordered a grilled snails dish, namely “So Duong nuong” (photo on the left) as a shareable prior the hot pot. Myself looked forward to the hot pot more than those snails. The hot pot named “Lau Ca dieu hong mang chua” was the sweet and sour soup, with whole red tilapia cooked in it, which was similar to what we usually had back in college time. I loved to slurp the rice noodles in the hot sweet and sour broth, and have a piece of fish dipped in fish sauce to enjoy with. We had waited such a long time to have that savory taste again! And totally worth it!
And that is the end of our foodie trip! If you visit Orange County someday, check out these places and see whether you share same thoughts as me.