Formatted post with photos here: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...
This summer I've spent a lot of time in the Garden Grove area working on group projects. My group members are natives of this area and I asked them to bring me to their local favorites. This post is a compilation of short reviews - enjoy!
Luc Dinh Ky Restaurant
First up is Luc Dinh Ky Restaurant [v2]. We stopped by a week earlier but the wait was 40 minutes long, and we were all starving so we ate elsewhere. On the night we revisited, the wait was only 15 minutes.
With every order you get a free cup of Nuoc Mat (Chrysanthemum tea).
Our food arrived quickly and the wait staff was tentative.
My friends recommended the Com Nuong Ca Salmon (Salmon with Grilled Rice) $8.25. This is easily one of the best Asian salmon dishes I've ever had. The salmon was sliced, cured, and cooked to order. As a result of curing, a crust that formed around the salmon offered a nice sweet flavor. The salmon was nice and tender. The sauce is sweet though the menu stated it was a spicy dish. It is accompanied by a grilled crispy rice which went well with salmon and sauce.
After our our first failed attempt to go to Luc Dinh Ky, we went across the street to Thanh My. The menu was huge. I had just spent the last five hours working on a report so I just ordered whatever my friend did.
What came to my table was rice plate that had beef marinated with lime. On the side a lime and pepper mixture was provided for dipping. The beef cubes were nice and tender but the dish was bland.
We also shared an order of clams in a broth. All I can say is, "Danger, Will Robinson!" No-go.
I've heard so many great things about Brodard and their nem noung so I needed to check it out for myself.
Nem Nuong Cuon $4.50 (3 pcs) - Grilled pork, lettuce, cucumber, daikon radish, carrots, and an egg roll, wrapped in rice paper with their special sauce. The pork pieces were tender with a great meaty flavor. The sauce was loaded with garlic pieces that leaves that great pungent smell that a bottle of Listerine couldn't counter. The nem nuong dish lived up to my expectations.
Phan Cha Gio (Egg Rolls) $4.50 - Brodard's egg rolls are mediocre at best; stick with the nem nuong.
The Boiling Crab
I've eaten my fair share of The Boiling Crab in Alhambra. However, I keep hearing that the Garden Grove location is better and worth the extra drive (5 minutes versus 45 minutes for me).
This location is a lot bigger than the one in Alhambra but is still just as busy.
Both locations share the same tagged-up theme with TVs mounted on the wall.
Salt, pepper, and limes for dipping.
The Cajun fries are a must order at any Boiling Crab location. They can be ordered mild, medium, or spicy. Alternatively, you can order the fried cat fish basket which comes with the fries. The pipping hot fries are seasoned with a chili powder and served with ketchup. To give it a kick, I normally dip it in the garlic sauce from the crawfish.
We ordered - 3lbs Crawfish, 2lbs Shrimp, 12pc sausage, 2pc corn, 3pc potatoes, She-bang Mild. I normally go for medium or spicy but I had to be considerate of my fellow diners. For those who haven't been to a Boiling Crab location, you're missing out. "She-bang" means a bunch of garlic, butter, Cajun spices, and whatever makes it "bang" more.
Eating at the Garden Grove location is definitely more comfortable than eating at the Alhambra location. The biggest problem at the Alhambra location is the restaurant's size. They often squeeze a party of seven on a four-top. At the Garden Grove location, there are spacious booths, room to navigate around tables, and you don't need to battle a crowd just to go to the restroom. Also, the sausage pieces are double the size at this location. In the end, the flavors were equal - is it worth the extra drive? I think not.