Across from Target on Capitol and Silver Creek is a newish shopping plaza of mostly Vietnamese businesses. When I stopped by in August, at least a dozen of them are eating places with more on the way. Picking one ab initio, I went for the shiny object, Com Tam Long An with a garish banner promoting nem nuong. Years ago, I’d had the famous nem nuong cuon at Brodard in Orange County. Nothing since up here ever came close and I sort of forgot about finding that taste again until those words were waved in front of me.
Here’s the appetizer section of the menu, showing Nem nuong cuon cha ram as 3 rolls for $4.50, and described as “grilled pork patty wrapped in rice paper w/a crisp roll, lettuce, mint, cucumber, Chef’s special sauce”.
My server pointed out that this was also available in a larger portion as a plate of components for roll-your-own. But I confessed that I was not good at wrapping rice paper for myself and preferred to stick with pre-rolled.
The three rolls were cut in half and arranged attractively with jaunty Chinese chive tails.
Very tightly wrapped, the crispy lettuce and pickled root veggies inside offered up a denser bite. The golden brown unfilled eggroll-like fingerling of fried pastry provided the most satisfying crackly crunch. The pork patty was light in color, a half-domed length of link, toasted brown on the exterior and mild in cure. This cross-section photo shows the individual components more clearly. The care in assembling and balancing the proportions paid off in the flavor.
The orange-shaded sauce, tasting of bean paste and Thai sweet chili sauce, was not as deep and rich as Brodard’s but plenty tasty nonetheless for dipping. My one real criticism would be that the cucumber spear was too large, injecting too much of a watery blankness on the palate.
Not the same as Brodard’s nem nuong, but worthy in their own right. What else have ‘hounds tried here?
Com Tam Long An Restaurant
3005 Silver Creek Rd, #112
San Jose, CA 95121
Daily 9am to midnight
Reports on other food businesses in the shopping center:
Fung Shui House, #126
Bun Mam Ha Tien, #192
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