A Summary of Seven Courses of Beef at Pagolac. $13.99 per person.
The first course was called Bo Nhung Dam and was similar to fondue or shabu-shabu. But instead of steeping the meat in plain old hot water, the thinly sliced tenderloin is swished around a simmering vinegared broth in a metal bowl. The acidic brew cooked the meat in seconds and added a noticeable zing. The tart and tender flaps were then to be wrapped up with more herbs and rice paper before consumption.
The stubby meat stogies dubbed Bo La Lot packed a wallop of flavor, of beef and of spice. The la lot wrapper had peppery overtones, and felt like a cross between grape-leaf and nori on the palate.
Paired with it was Bo Sate, rolled pieces of grilled tenderloin with a slender sliver of ginger hidden in its center. Supremely tender since it was essentially nothing but filet mignon, it ate like a steak, but with no cutting utensils involved.
Bo Cha Dum were steamed spheres of ground beef, packed with mushrooms, peas, and bean thread noodle. Crumbly soft and pleasantly fatty, I placed it on top of a shrimp chip before I ate it, and ooh-and-ahh'd when I felt the contrasting textures dancing in my mouth. The crackling crunch of the chip led the tango while the moistness of the meat followed in a perfect lockstep all the way down the gullet.
On the same plate as the Bo Cha Dum, was the Bo Nuong Mo Chai, round balls of ground beef sausage seasoned with a touch of five-spice. Wrapped in caul fat, the bundles self-basted during broiling. The result was a scrumptious and smoky beef nugget which needed no additional accoutrements. These were the best meatballs, Swedish or otherwise, that I've ever tasted.
The second to the last course, was a salad. Not just a salad, of course, but a beef salad named Bo Bit Tet. More slices of cooked tenderloin, this time sluiced with Italian dressing, adorned a bed of butter lettuce. The pointedly tart vinaigrette worked to balance the richness and the cool lettuce leaves refreshed the palate even further.
Last but not least was the Chao Bo, a clear soup with cooked rice, minced beef, green onion, ginger, and most inexplicable of all, itty bitty pieces of star pasta -- the very same kind you'd find in a can of Campbell's Chicken and Stars. Regardless of the oddity, the soup came perfectly timed as a reprieve from an impending beef overdose. It was the equivalent of downshifting to first gear before rolling to a stop.
14580 Brookhurst St
Westminster, CA 92683
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