This weekend we tried Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa, whose banh beo chen dishes, were pictured in J.Golds column last Thursday.
As I understand it, Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa is named for the house speciality: char-broiled pork paste (nem nuong), esp. popular in a region in central Viet Nam (Ninh Hoa).
But our siren call was Golds description of the banh beo chen:
" a Hue-style dish of tiny, slippery rice cakes steamed in little condiment saucers, a dozen to an order, dusted with bright-orange powdered shrimp and served on elegant ceramic plat-ters. (Before the remodel, the banh beo chen used to come regimented on plastic cafeteria trays, which always gave me the impression that I had mistakenly been served the lunch of an entire army of elves.)"
We ordered: Dac Biet for two people for $12.99 Each char-broiled item was wonderful, including the towering plate of ultra fresh herbs and lettuce, served on the side.
But we both went crazy for the nem cap (pink eraser-sized charbroiled pork patties in banana leaf) and crunchy cha ram tom (cigarette-sized shrimp egg rolls).
Next up was the banh beo chen for $6.99. The warm silver-dollar disks of rice flour are topped with mung bean powder, ground shrimp, and oil-moistened green onions, served with nuoc cham. Theyre delicate and calming, tiny-savory little custards
The silly astroturf outside the front door is a reverse bait-n-switch. Inside its all sultry dark wood and hand-carved chairs and tables. The waitrons are courteous and attentive. (The owner came over and asked if we came because of the newspaper. Im sure I turned a bright shade of hot nem nuong -- Gold groupie busted again!)
The only inconsequential criticism I had was of the soda chanh. Not nearly enough lemon. Just go with a nice, cold water instead.
Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa
9016 Mission Dr.
Rosemead, CA 91770
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