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Restaurants & Bars 9

Thanh My lunch (cautionary tale part 1)

Dbird | Apr 18, 200509:24 PM

I am leaving Los Angeles at the end of the month and on a mad quest to hit key spots that for whatever reason (laziness, mostly) I have failed to include in 6,570 theoretical meals in this city. I have a separate post on this topic and welcome suggestions there!

I offer my experience as a cautionary tale to other chowhounds who, like me, may know exactly where they would go, should they find themselves in, say, Artesia--but who have never bothered to figure out where that is.

Today, I went to lunch at Thanh My in Westminster. It was the first time I have been to Westminster, and it was probably the first Vietnamese meal I have had since I moved to Los Angeles, if you don't count frequent visits to Slanted Door in SF.

The restaurant is light, clean and comfortable. Minimall and formica, yes, but no loud music or fluorescent lights.

There were three of us and after a moment's reflection, the host said he thought 2 orders of 7-course beef would be sufficient. We also ordered green soup with shrimp.

The first course was a larb-like sour-sweet beef salad with peanuts, mint, onion. As this was served, the table was set with a hibachi, a large plate of lettuce, mint, and purple basil; pickled radish, carrot and sliced cucumber; rice papers; and peanut and sour sauces. A plate of beef carpaccio with onion was set down along with the pot of water for the hibachi and if I had been alone I would have eaten it raw rather than shabu-shabu style (I love raw meat and hate to share!). The host/proprietor hovered to demonstrate how the elements were to be combined, as the soup arrived with three small bowls. The broth was clear but also highly extracted and full of I am not sure what bright green vegetable (chard?) and rock shrimp. It was quite good but if I had it to do again (and I have only myself to blame that I don't!) I would probably have ordered one of the sour soups.

Beef items 3-6 arrived on a single plate-- a meatball, and two other ground/sausage items. One I know was wrapped in bacon and rather mild. There was another that delivered a great, complex slow heat. (It was actually the only heat in this meal). And yet another was wrapped with some kind of seaweed or other leafy green.

This was followed by a beef jook with a garnish of caramelized onion.

I don't like sweets but adored the viscous tapioca soup dessert, the color of lemon custard. One of my companions thought it contained mung beans, but I am not sure.

The meal was a revelation. I have not had a tasting menu anywhere--from Valentino to Mako--that I would rate more highly.

This feast, which three avid diners could not finish, came to around $32.

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