My husband has been jealous about all the Viet lunch escapades I get to indulge in w/ our lunch group, so I thought it was time to take him to one of our more recent lunch stops, Quang Da. See link to previous chowdown report. We went last Tues. night for an early dinner before heading to the SJ Rep. Sorry, no photos.
We ordered two of my favorite banh dishes from last time:
#2 Banh La - rice flour "tamale" w/ pork and shrimp wrapped in banana leaf served w/ nuoc cham
#5 Banh Uot Thit Nuong - rice flour rolls filled w/ grilled pork, lettuce, and mint served w/ sesame peanut dipping sauce
#30 Banh Xeo - pan-fried rice "crepe" filled w/ pork, shrimp, bean sprouts served w/ table greens and peanut sesame sauce
#31 Hu Tieu - country noodle soup w/ prawn, shrimp, BBQ pork, bean sprouts, celery leaves, and rice noodles. One can order dry (kho) or wet (nuoc) and we got the wet.
While the banh looked and tasted fairly consistent to last time, they were just one notch down in quality and deliciousness. Perhaps they weren't as freshly made or the element of surprise had evaporated, but they didn't sing as much as last time. Husband especially liked the banh la though.
The standout for me was the banh xeo. I don't usually gravitate to this dish for various reasons...sometimes it's lukewarm and not crispy, sometimes the filling is mostly stale bean sprouts w/ a bit of bland pork and shrimp that is hidden in there. This one didn't suffer from any of that. It was wonderfully hot and perpetually crispy on the outside...as if it had been touched by well-seasoned cast iron. The flavorful shrimp and pork bits were loosely embedded into the yellow crepe walls, and the bean sprouts had fresh crunch and bright flavor. The only small criticism is that the batter was a bit too thick and doughy in parts, but the crispiness compensated for that.
Served w/ a fresh plate of greens and herbs, and I liked the unusual addition of thin slivers of granny smith apple. They also serve rice sheets w/ warm water so that you can wrap and roll, but I preferred it wrapped in lettuce only and dipped in the sauce.
The country-style soup was good, but I like the mi quang and bun bo hue from last time better. Toppings were abundant and flavorful. The broth was complex, filled w/ the elusive flavor of meat and seafood base intermingling. Only issue was that it was quite concentrated and salty.
Their fresh lemonade was nicely tart and refreshing, but their ca phe sua da was harsh and bitter. All this for around $30 and we were stuffed. So husband is less jealous AND I got to eat at Quang Da again! Not a bad deal. Banh Xeo lovers should try their version. I have to go back for a big bowl of their bun bo hue. They get high marks for their distinct dipping sauces and warm, nurturing service.
348 E. Santa Clara St.
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