My friend and I really enjoyed our dinner at Benley, a vietnamese kitchen, last Saturday night.
We walked in around 6:30, without a reservation, and took one of the only open tables. This small place is at the end of a strip mall, and is hard to see before you park. The dining room is small, with maybe 10 tables. Large photographs of Vietnames scenes set the mood that soft lighting, wooden chairs and tables, and simple white dishes carry through.
The service was welcoming, casual, friendly. Food and beverages came promptly without being rushed.
My friend and I shared:
-shrimp and lotus salad with citrus shallot dressing; This crunchy, tasty salad had julienned strips of raw lotus root as the main base, with herbs and a bit of thinly sliced shrimp. The dressing was a sweet, mellow complement. I might order this without the shrimp next time. (We missed a green papaya salad)
-crunchy pork spring rolls with chili/peanut sauce -- the pork was crunchy, wrapper was an unfried rice wrapper, stuffed with mint and some veggies.
-shaken filet, beef filet chunks cooked with sliced potatoes in butter, garlic and onions; This was not spicy at all, although it was perfectly cooked. We decided it would make an excellent breakfast, with poached eggs. And, it's definitely a good choice for those who don't enjoy spicy food.
-flattened chicken - dark chicken meat in a complex, multi-spiced oil based sauce served with side of sauteed bok choy. This was completely addictive. I might dream about this dish. I haven't had anything like it before; which may be just my ignorance of the cuisine, but wow!
plain rice - of course:)
-house vegetables - cooked with butter, garlic...and some other spices? These were beautifully prepared and very fresh. We were glad to have them, because we had ordered so much meat.
buttermilk, key lime panna cotta for desert. Soft, clear flavors with perfect texture. Also, beautifully presented.
BYOB; we drank hot tea, they had a nice selection of non-alcoholic beverages
Tab was $60 before tip.
When you go, I recommend making a reservation. This gem will probably be full.
Benley, a vietnamese kitchen
8191 E Wardlow Rd, Long Beach, CA 90808