Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quan Hop - It's Hue It's At! - Westminster, CA

I was suppose to go and have afternoon tea with Sister K today but due to weather uncertainty we decided to reschedule for another day. So instead I decided to drive into Little Saigon for some warm and yummy soup. As in Pho! All week long the folks over the OCWeekly had been tweeting and posting about their Final Pho showdown. Needless to say all that talk just made me want a bowl of pho. So I headed straight for Quan Hop, which also happens to be one of the restaurants in the bracket in the Final Pho. Quan Hop specializes in food from the region of Vietnam know as Hue. Located on the eastern shoreline of central Vietnam.

Hue is pronounced sort of like "where", ending in an up note or high note or drag the word out a bit. I think if you tried to say "Where-Air" really fast, you will be close to the correct pronunciation. Wow that was the strangest thing I've ever tried to explain. Okay not really but at least you learned something new today. I hope.

So I tried to take a photo of the name of the restaurant but I was too short. Fail!

Nice little patio for eating outside. I very rarely see people eating out there. I guess Vietnamese people like to eat inside. Don't quote me on that.

The inside of the restaurant is surprising nice compared to other Vietnamese restaurants in Little Saigon. At those other places, there are usually scraps of food on the floor, flies hovering around, sticky tables and lots of mismatched things. I don't really mind those things so much because I am use to it but if it sounds gross to you, you may want to avoid those places. I will  make sure to make note of that in my reviews.

I came here on this day for just one thing...Pho! I ordered the #20 which I think was $7.50, which is somewhat expensive for Pho but the beef is a filet cut. So you get what you pay for. You can also order your raw sliced beef on side and put it into your soup when you are ready to prevent overcooking but I like my Pho meat to be cooked so I just order it in the bowl.

They bring your utensils to you in a little wicker basket. They have pretty good service here. The waiters may actually smile. Maybe. Plus they speak a little bit of English, unlike some of the other places where if you don't know a little bit of the language it may be a long night.

Here is my order with some accompanying little plate of bean sprouts, thai basil, wedge of lemon and ngo gai (saw tooth herb). Also, some chili sauce and bean paste to flavor your soup to your own liking.

See how raw the meat is? You need to soak the meat in the hot soup to cook it a bit or until it is pink. The Pho here is one of my favorite. The broth is really flavorful. Feels like a warm hug. No, seriously! I also noticed that they don't throw in a whole bunch of sliced raw onions into their soup. I hate that! I normally pick them all out. There was just the right amount of sliced purple onions. It is done really well here. Plus the restaurant is clean. Win/win!

The following photos are from a previous visit a couple years ago. Pretty much still looks the same though. This is the same Pho as the one above.

This is Bun Rieu Oc. Oc is sea snails in Vietnamese. I went through a Bun Rieu Oc phase a couple of years ago and even started a blog about it. I'm sort of over it now but I still love this soup. It is sour, salty and briny because of the sea snails. There is rice noodles, tomato, coagulated pig blood (sorry if that is tmi) and of course the sea snails. This soup isn't for everyone. It is as eater friendly as Pho because of all the exotic stuff in there but it is tasty. 

They usually serve a little plate of garnish with the Bun Rieu. This here is chopped lettuce and herbs, bean sprouts and a wedge of lemon. My mom tells me that they serve lemon with a lot of their soups/dishes because in Vietnam there is no refrigeration for the vendors who sell food on the street in carts. Often times at the end of the day, the soup some times start to go south and the lemon helps to hide that fact. Plus, it adds flavor to the dish. I know, gross but true. A lot of Vietnamese food started out being sold on the street and that is how the lemon came into play on those garnish plates. Nowadays, the lemon is just used to enhance the flavor as refrigeration is not an issue here in the states.

Just more shot of the Bun Rieu.

This sauce is what really makes this restaurant's Bun Rieu stand out for me. It is a mixture of fermented shrimp paste, fish sauce and crushed chili and it is the most amazing thing. I should caution that this sauce is not for the faint of heart. It is very very fishy...I mean hello...fermented shrimp paste. Now don't say I didn't warn you.

Okay, just one more photo of the Bun Rieu. I told you I had a thing for it.

Moving on, this is rice noodle dish with grilled beef, shrimp, julienne pickled carrots/daikon radish, chopped herbs and a side of fish sauce used as a dressing for this dish. This is one of those dishes I normally recommend to my non-Vietnamese friends. ;)

This is a beef and carrot stew served with some french baguette for dipping. The stew is typically heavily scented with star anise so if you like that flavor, you might like this dish. I personally think my parents make a much better one. I didn't really like this one very much. Maybe I am just use to the way my parents make it.

So this is the beef/carrot/potato stew my parents make and it blows that other one out of the water. Too bad you guys can't taste this. My parents are like cooking geniuses!

As I mentioned above, the stew is almost always served with a chunk of crusty french baguette. Always! And that is such a good thing because dipping the bread into that sauce is about the most amazing thing ever. Like a party in your mouth.

Quan Hop
15640 Brookhurst Street
Westminster, CA 92683
(714) 689-0555

1 comment:

Glenn Jones said...

Well - I think I know where the family is going for dinner next weekend!