If you've ever craved vietnamese food or even attempted to try it, the last thing I would suggest is to venture into Orange County's Little Saigon without a plan. The small parking lots and mass amount of cars is overwhelming enough without knowing what to try or where to try it.
I've found that the easiest way to break it down is by type of food. Most restaurants specialize in something specific. For example, you've got the banh mi shops or the com tam shops that sell rice plates made with broken rice and you can choose a variety of grilled or steamed proteins to eat with it. Of course you've got your Pho restaurants and places that just sell a variety of vietnamese soups. When someone asks me for a recommendation I ask what they are craving. If you want Pho, I'll send you to a place that specializes in Pho. But I'm not going to send you to a steak house if you're craving french toast.
Now, if you don't know what you're craving there are a few great places like Tambien Express in Westminster, CA. They don't specialze in any one particular dish, but are quite good at a variety. They have the standard items like rice porridge, pho and different noodle soups, bo kho (vietnamese beef stew) and bo luc lac (filet mignon stir fried with peppers and onions). They even have photos of all their dishes on their website which greatly helps someone who's inexperienced.
I've been several times now and my two favorite dishes were the Bun Bo Hue and the Bo Lac Luc. Both were extrememly flavorful and both were under $10! The soup came with all the herbs that is intended and I liked how the noodles were served on the side and not inside the soup. Bewarned, that this isn't a grab and eat in the car soup. You'll need to take it home and reheat the noodles before adding to the broth. The Bo Lac Luc is served with a small side salad and a small cup of broth. Both were filling and perfect for take out.
Help support a small business and get some great takeout food at the same time!
Tam Bien Express 15560 Brookhurst Street, Westminister, CA 92683 714.868.3133