Sunday, February 12, 2006

Roots Homegrown: The Beginners Guide to Understanding Jeni Volume I

As a daughter of a Sansei (3rd generation Japanese-American) Hawaiian boy and a crazy Saigon mama I've been raised on a expansive medley of comfort foods. My dad, being from Hawaii brought us Portugese sausages and spam. His upbringing in San Fernando with his Chicano homies delivers our chorizo and eggs on Sunday mornings. And his years of military service in Alabama explains my endless love for fried chicken and all that is soulful in food.

My mom is a hard-core Saigon mama. Viet is her name, unethical food preparation is her game. She is the reason I have a stomach of steel and no food on the streets from Hanoi to Bangkok can ever upset it. I love Vietnamese food like no other. Pho is my comfort soup when I'm sick, cha gio are what I call egg rolls, curries without coconut milk and french bread are foreign to me, and banh mi's are my po-boys.

Going to Little Saigon in Westminster is a full-day thang. It is so tiring. Driving amongst crazy and/or timid Vietnamese drivers is insane. How they do it in Vietnam...I just can't understand. In Vietnam...there are no lanes...and they got all them crazy French turnaround rue's...caaarazy. In the midst of craziness, the Vietnamese keep calm and just live life. I love it!

There are two rules my mom and I follow about our trips to Little Saigon. 1) Never go during Tet Festivals (Lunar New Year) and 2) Never go on a Saturday. Well, today, we broke rule #2 and ventured into craziness on the busiest day of the week. Fortunately, we had no problems finding parking at any of our joints. Sweeet!

Well boys and girls, today we are lucky to have my mom in as a guest to review our trip to Little Saigon. Her reviews are in ALL-CAPS, because for some reason, she likes to blog in ALL-CAPS. Yes, she has her own blog. It's pretty hilarious. Anyways, she says "GHOSH" a lot. She loves her Napoleon Dynamite.

The Original TAY HO
HEY CUTE, WHAT DO U WANT TO EAT TODAY? TAY HO IS IN MY MIND. BUT IT'S SATURDAY, NO WAY. JUST GO... LUCKY, WE FOUND A BEST SPOT RIGHT IN FRONT TAY HO. IT WAS GOOD, BUT WHAT HAPPENING. NOT ENOUGH BANH CUON NHAN THIT, THEY MUST CHANGE THE COOK. GOSH... FLOUR IS SO CHEAP, WHY DID THEY DO THAT, GHOSH GHOSH... BUT IT WAS GOOD ANYWAY.

Banh cuon are thin flour sheets. Hmm...think of chow fun, but in sheets, and made super thin. Tay Ho makes their banh cuon extra thin and fill them with ground pork and mushrooms. This dish (#7), also comes with bean sprouts and cha lua (cha loo~ah) pork bologna all for under $5. Use the restroom in the back and sneak a peak of the ladies in the back steaming banh cuon. Tay Ho loves you because they provide all you can use nuoc mam (fish sauce).

Tay Ho is located in the back of a tiny tiny tiny shopping plaza east of the Asian Garden Mall. If there isn't parking, park at Asian Garden Mall or proceed to Tay Ho #4 (9629 Bolsa Ave.)

THAI SON:
THREE DOLLARS FOR TWO LBS OF BANH CUON PLUS FISH SAUCE, ALWAYS CHEAP AND GOOD. THE BANH CUON THANH TRI SINCE 1975 IS BIGGER EVERYDAY. IT IS WAS ONLY PLACE WHERE U CAN BUY THEM BY POUND AND IT IS CHEAP. THANK YOU FOR THE OWNER, THE BANH CUON IS STILL THE SAME TEST LIKE THE FIRST DAY OPEN.

I grew up on Thai Son banh cuon take-out. Their banh cuon is super thin! Buy banh cuon by the pound ($1.75/lb) and it also comes with nuoc mam and dried onions. Yummmm!

Thai Son also makes their own line of mi (egg noodles) and wonton skins. The owner's son, Steve took time to explain why their noodles and wonton skins are superb!

Thai Son is located in a shopping center on the SW corner of Bolsa and Magnolia. Beware: This area is old school Little Saigon. People are everywhere!

UYENTHY BISTRO:
IT IS A FRANCE COOKING, THE RICE IS ORIGINAL TASTE FROM FRENCH. ALL KIND OF STEW, BEEF, GOAT,BEEF TONGUE,DUCK,CHICKEN, ... PLUS THE SANWICH W/PORK ROAST, PATE, HEADCHEESE, CHAXIU,XIUMAI... PRICE IS CHEAP FRENCH DISH. THE INSIDE IS WARM, HOME, AND LOOK LIKE RUNNING BY THE WHOLE FAMILY. COOKING IS ALL HOMEMADE.

We were actually looking for a French/Vietnamese joint called Tai Buu Paris...but it's gone. I think they might have just moved. Anyways, mom and I ended up here at Uyenthy Bistro. It's a nice getaway from the usual Westminster hustle and flow. Definitely a great place to stop and relax with some Vietnamese cafe. Like my mom said, their French/Vietnamese grub is pretty reasonable. All chefs specials run around $6.00.

We got a couple of banh mi's at Uyenthy Bistro. We usually go to Banh Mi Che Cali for their 3 for $3 deal. But this time we decided to splurge.
Banh mi dac biet

Banh mi's at Uyenthy Bistro are all quality! The cha siu looked hawwwt, head cheese was clean, and the pate...ohhh the pate was smooth like butter baby!
TOP BAGUETTE:
BEST FRENCH BA.... HEY, HOW DO U SPELL THAT BA... SHIT. ... SORRY. YEE, IT WAS THE BEST BREAD SINCE I LEFT VIETNAM. HEY, FOUND THE OWNER LITTLE CUTEE IN FRONT THE SHOP. HEY, WHAT IS HE PLAYING, COWBOY AND INDIAN, HE GOT A PLASTIC GUN ...BAO BAO BAO... ANYWAY, HE LOOK JUST LIKE FATHER. AGAIN, THE BEST FRENCH BREAD U CAN FIND HERE.

HAHA...I love my mom's gunshot noises. That's the owner in front of the shop, along with his nieces and nephews. His gangbanging toddler isn't in the picture...BAO BAO BAO. Ok..back to baguettes. Their baguettes are really really nice. The outside is crispy yet light. Inside is warm and fluffy. Top Baguette, you score way high for texture.

BEARD PAPA'S:
I LIKE HOW THEY DO THE FILLING FOR THE CREAMPUFF. OK... CREAMPUFF IS ADICTED, IF U WANT TO LOOSE WEIGHT, DON'T GO THERE. IT IS THE BEST CREAMPUFF SHOULD BE. HOW DO THEY MAKE THEM. DON'T KNOW BUT IT IS GOOD.

I love how my mom is so addicted to Beard Papa's. Yea, if you want to "loose" weight...don't come here.

Eclairs at Beard Papa's are yummmmmy! Get it when you can. It's not always available. It's a whopping $1.85, but so worth it. Mom and I paired it with some Canadian Ice Wine I got for Christmas! ~OISHII~!


Tay Ho
9242 Bolsa Avenue #F
Westminster, Ca 92683
(714) 895-4796

Thai Son

8922 Bolsa Avenue
Westminster, Ca 92683
(714) 893-5325

Uyenthy Bistro
9039 Bolsa Avenue Ste 101&102
Westminster, Ca 92683
(714) 898-9889

Top Baguette
9062 Bolsa Avenue
Westminster, CA 92638
(714) 379-7726

Beard Papa's Shu Creams
Marukai Pacific Square Shopping Ctr.
1620 W. Redondo Beach Blvd.
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 538-2909

21 comments:

lyeh said...

this is the best and most entertaining entry i've read from you...your mom and can be your sidekick Make it a mother/daughter tag team

Kirk said...

Hi Jeni - Loved this wonderful and so entertaining post! You and your Mom make a heck of team. Thanks for taking me along......

BoLA said...

I absolutely LOVE the pic of you and your mom! Great review with you and your mama-san! ;)

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Hi Jeni, $2/lb for banh cuon??? I'm so there. Love banh cuon. When I was back at UCI, i would frequent Bolsa - almost every week. I thought I was Vietnamese or something haha. Great, entertaining posting.

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Have you been to Quan Hy in Garden Grove or Westminster? It's my favorite 'gourmet' vietnamese restaurant. Their known for their presentation of banh beo's (rice discs with dried shrimp and nuoc mum). Man i miss that place.

Jeni said...

Laurie, Kirk, and Kristy...I'll let my mom know that you enjoyed the teamwork. She's gonna get a big head now. :) I will take her on more eating adventures...and take more pictures with her as I yell out..."MOOOOM...don't leave meeee!"

Dang EDDNBM...you definitely know wassup with Vietnamese food if you know about banh beo! I'll ask my mom about Quan Hy. We love banh beo..she makes it all the time! Hey you went to UCI too? What year did you graduate? I graduated in 2000. ZOT ZOT ZOT!

eatdrinknbmerry said...

I love vietnamese food. So light and flavorful. I think Quan Hy's food is good but not the best. The decor is nice compared to your typical stickytabletop, bean-sproutsonthefloor pho restaurant. I think the Bolsa one closed down, so now it's just the Garbage Grove one.

2001, with a major in underwater basketweaving. highly useful. I'm so proud of our Div.1 football team.

Daily Gluttony said...

Jeni,

Great post...your mom rules!!!

rick james said...

you mom is a riot... the shopping cart shot looks so natural, like its not the first time.. LOL

Jeni said...

Hey everyone...I just told my mom what you guys were saying about her. She started to laugh and said, "Did you tell them that I'm real hip. I still watch MTV."

I told you she would get big-headed.

Terila said...

First time here and I'm HOOKED!

A great article with you and your mom. Why not make it a series touring the insider haunts in Little Saigon.

That Banh Mi looks awesome.

Jeni said...

Thanks Terila! Yes, our monthly trips to Little Saigon will be turned into a mom and daughter series. I get my insider tips from my mom and all her Saigon buddies. They know it all. And I will share them with you!

Ro said...

Thanks for the inspiration. Hit up Little Saigon for the first time this past Sunday on the strength of your post. Thought about Tay Ho, but decided to try Brodard instead. We did hit Top Baguette for some baguettes to take home though. Simply amazing. Thanks again and please keep up the amazing posts.

Jeni said...

Ro...hope you enjoyed your experience in Little Saigon! Wow...I've never been to Brodard, I think I'm gonna have to check that place out! My mom and I will be out there soon. Peace.

Eddie Lin said...

jeni,

hi, found you via la.foodblogging. i really enjoyed your mom's review. she's keepin' it asian mama real!! i videotaped a cooking show of my mom and it was funny. your mom reminds me of my mom. and i don't mean that in an "all asian moms look the same" kind of way. but they are all pretty wacky!! i luvsya mama!!!

have you seen that new cookbook "the little saigon cookbook"? it's pretty cool. family oriented stories sprinkled throughout.

great work here.

Jeni said...

Hey Eddie...yo mama sounds crazy! I've always thought about exploiting my mom in making a cooking show too. She loves attention and LOVES to blow my friends away with her very unreserved remarks.

I gotto check out that cookbook. Whenever I ask my mom to teach me how to make certain dishes, she totally teaches me "mama-style"...everything is measured using the lengths of her fingers. Baaah!

Christine D. said...

I love your blog! We usually get our banh cuons from Tay Ho, and i love their food. Wow, I gotta find that Uyen Thy place because not only does it sound yummy, but THAT'S MY VIET NAME!! haha

Jeni said...

Hey Christine...I LOVE Tay Ho! Banh cuon at Tay Ho is my choice of grub whenever we go to Westminster! I hope you get to go to Uyen Thy soon. It's so cute and yummy.

Anonymous said...

Tai Buu Paris moved to a new location. Their address is 9684 Westminster Ave, G.G. (714)534-6114. It's much nicer with the same good food and low prices, but now they've added more to the menu.

Autumn said...

hey Jeni, love your mom's reviews. she reminds me of my mom. she writes to me.. .I'M HUNDRY = hungry. haha! keep it up!

hong said...

very nice reviews and photography...I will be checking your site frequently as I'm moving to los feliz from NYC in a few weeks!

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