The San Gabriel Valley (a “borough” of Los Angeles) food scene becomes only slightly more navigable once you know your Asian countries. Then it’s breaking down the regional specifications of different cuisines, and having that insider’s awareness to filter out the “house special” from the restaurant’s lengthy all-encompassing menu.
Despite being SGV born-and-raised, I still have trouble figuring out where to go for the best ______ or what to order when I’m at ______. Sometimes, I just can’t be bothered to think so hard about it aka I’m just frickin hungry, so I go to the well-rounded old standbys. Vietnam House is one of those spots. It’s a spinoff of the famous Golden Deli and I believe somewhere in the history books, familial dissonance spawned these warring states, now located right across the street from one another. Since I always side with the underdog, I’m usually at Vietnam House. No wait, plus, they make a really good 7 Courses of Beef (Bo 7 Mon).
First day back in Los Angeles, I’m there with my friend Jillian and we split a bun—noodles topped with shrimp paste, grilled pork, spring rolls, resting on top of fresh shredded lettuce, bean sprouts, and herbs. Then all of that gets drenched in nuoc mam cham (fish sauce dipping sauce). We also ordered cha gio (spring rolls) on the side, which gets rolled up with assorted herbs in fresh lettuce and dipped into the same sauce. Jillian ordered a fresh coconut on the side to sip on and our total bill was $17. That’s the SGV for ya—cheap, fresh, delicious. New York City Vietnamese Restaurants—you should be ashamed of yourselves!
Lunch Pairing: Gang Colours - “Fancy Restaurant”. I’m really into my Brit bands and producers right now, especially the ones championing the shoegazey, R&B, dub sound. Despite the questionable name, Gang Colours is a current favorite of mine.