To quote Lan, "Don't be jealous." :)
After I picked her up from the airport, of course, we had to decide on lunch. Little Saigon was a natural choice but what type of Vietnamese food? I decided on Quan Vy Da Restaurant simply because I was thwarted in a previous attempt since it was closed on Mondays.
We started off with hen xao xuc banh trang (Vietnamese stir-fried baby clams to scoop with rice paper) for $6.95. The baby clams were teeny tiny and simply sauteed with onions. The copious amount of ground black pepper gave a slightly different spicy flavor profile than what I'm used to with chili spiciness. Very good though and we kept picking and picking at this dish throughout our meal.
The toasted sesame rice paper to go with the clams. And the Mam Ruoc (Vietnamese Fermented Shrimp Paste) goes with...
...canh bun (Vietnamese rice noodle soup with ground crab and water spinach) for $5.95. The soup had ground crab paste that was reminiscent of Bun Rieu (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Soup with Ground Shrimp and Crab Paste) and the blood cubes and thicker rice noodles of Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-style Beef Noodle Soup). It seemed like a good idea in theory since I love both soups. Somehow though, we both felt that it wasn't quite one soup or the other. I mean, if I wanted bun rieu, I'd eat bun rieu. And if I wanted bun bo Hue, I'd eat bun bo Hue. Maybe it was just this version, but this hybrid didn't really do it for us and it remained largely untouched.
Since Quan Vy Da specializes in Central-style Vietnamese food, I also ordered the Vy Da combo which came with banh bot loc (Vietnamese clear tapioca dumplings), banh nam (Vietnamese flat rice dumplings with shrimp and pork), banh beo (Vietnamese steamed rice discs topped with shrimp), and banh uot (Vietnamese wet noodle sheets) for $6.50.
Another angle. Looking at the menu just now, I realized we never got the banh it (Vietnamese pork and shrimp dumplings) that were supposed to come with the combo. Hmph!
You can tell by the way the banh uot looks all broken up that the platter of dumplings was dry. How disappointing! I was so sad with the quality since I love Vietnamese dumplings. And even though they're all variations of rice or tapioca flour with shrimp and/or pork, they're different in presentation and texture.
Every other table was getting the banh beo steamed in individual dishes, so since Lan was rarely in town, I ordered that too in efforts of redeeming the lunch. The banh beo chen Vy Da (Vietnamese steamed rice discs in individual bowls topped with shrimp) for $5.75 were pretty good. Not as good as at Quan Hy Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon), but helped redeem the otherwise disappointing dumpling platter. It even came with a small dish of the traditional fried pork rinds. Most Vietnamese restaurants these days offer croutons for a healthier, but still crunchy option.
A few weeks later, I was in Little Saigon with Tony of SinoSoul and his better half. After running errands and downing a 32-oz nuoc mia (Vietnamese sugarcane juice) for only $3.50 from C&C Express (C&C Food Co.) - Westminster (Little Saigon), we had to decide on dinner. I said I wanted to revisit Quan Vy Da so I could then blog about it, so that's what we did.
Mrs. SinoSoul's soda chanh (Vietnamese limeade) and my Thai iced tea.
We ordered a small bun bo Hue for $5.75. Very good.
The herb dish also came with sliced banana blossoms. Always a nice touch.
Mi quang (Vietnamese turmeric noodles with shrimp and pork) for $6.50. A pretty good rendition, topped with chopped peanuts, herbs, sliced onions, and toasted sesame rice paper.
The waiter assured me that the baby clams used in com hen (Vietnamese baby clam rice) for $6.50 were different from the hen xuc banh trang. But when the bowl came out, they were the exact same baby clams. Com hen and bun hen are only available on weekends. the com hen came with rice, broth, and mam ruoc on the side.
The com hen was actually quite good with fried pork rinds, herbs, sliced green mango, herbs, and tons of other ingredients. It would have been just fine on its own, except that we had also ordered the sauteed baby clams dish as well. And two baby clams dish of the exact same baby clams, when the waiter had assured us they were very different, was just a bit overkill. Nonetheless, I dumped both dishes into the same to-go container and the leftovers were quite lovely.
Judging by what other tables ordered, the chicken rice with Goi Ga (Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad) is also a popular dish.
There's also a variety of rice plates, but I'd come back for the clams, noodles, and individually steamed dumplings.
November 13, 2010 Update:
I was back again this summer when I met up with the sisters of Eating Club Vancouver. We ordered the mi quang and baby clams along with banh it ram (Vietnamese sticky rice dumplings on a fried dumpling). Mmm. Much better than expected since I didn't care for the stick-to-my-teeth version at Quan Hy Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon). Eat it fresh and the fried dumpling is gooey on the inside and crispy on the outside.
And Bun Rieu Cua Tom Oc (Vietnamese Crab and Shrimp Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Snails), which was nowhere near as good as mine. It also came out sans snails. After pointing out the error to the waiter, he came back with a whole bowl full of snails for us. :)
Still a great place to go for Central-style Vietnamese food and baby clams.
Other Central-style Vietnamese restaurants:
Quan Mien Trung Vietnamese Cuisine - Rosemead
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant - Alhambra
Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant - Rosemead
Ngu Binh Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon)
Quan Hy Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon)
Quan Vy Da Restaurant
9950 Bolsa Ave., #A-B
Westminster, CA 92683
Tuesday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
1 year ago today, Longan Chicken Radicchio Wraps.
2 years ago today, Croutons with Garlic and Seasoning.
3 years ago today, an "autostitched" panoramic photo of my visit to Parga, Greece.