#12. Banh It Kep Banh Ram at Ngu Binh

ngubinh
ProfessorSalt.com
It's #15 on the menu

You'll have noticed we're changing who writes this feature on a day by day basis: this is how you know we're getting close to the end of our countdown. Make sure to pick up a copy of our Best of OC 2010 when it hits the newsstands October 14!


Hot, tooth-pulling, taffy-like glutinous rice is loved by Asians of many persuasions - as mochi in Japan, dduk in Korea, and at Little Saigon's Ngu Binh Restaurant, perhaps its ultimate expression as banh it kep banh ram.
It's mochi two ways: a crunchy, deep-fried mochi ball stuffed with a steamed mochi in turn  stuffed with dried shrimp cooked red. Its thick, fried-brown crust looks just like pork cracklings, and has a toasted rice cracker flavor that you'll love if you like the scorched rice crust of Persian tadig, Spanish paella or Korean nurungji.

Like French croquettes or Italian arancini, it has the perfect ratio of fried crunchy shell to a hot, starchy interior which absorbs the salty, umami-rich nuoc mam fish sauce spiked with hot fresh red pepper slivers. It's topped with a one-two onion punch of fried shallot and raw scallion, and a second kind of dried shrimp. Like all the international dishes I've name-dropped, this is poor folks' food elevated to world class status.

It's a rare dish, and you'll have to join the line outside Ngu Binh to get it. This is a hole in the wall restaurant that caters to its adoring Vietnamese clientele, and the eighteen-entree, Viet-only menu is impenetrable if you don't speak the language. The wait staff isn't very English-amenable either, so just remember it's #15 on the menu--and #12 on this list.

Ngu Binh Restaurant, 14072 Magnolia St., #107, Westminster, (714) 903-6000.

The rest of the list!

#100. Jerk Carnitas Torta at The Crosby
#99. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard
#98. Pork Chop Anything at Nice Time Deli
#97. Flying Saucer at Alberto's
#96. Frozen Custard at Marc Burger's in Macy's Signature Kitchen
#95. Collard Greens at Johnny Reb's
#94. Strawberry Shortcake from Job's Daughters
#93. Cuban Sandwich at DeSimone's Deli
#92. Lamb with Preserved Cabbage at Mas Islamic Chinese
#91. Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky
#90. Beans on Toast at The Olde Ship
#89. Midnight Al Pastor Burrito or Taco at Taqueria Tapatia
#88. Budino di Cioccolato, Pizzeria Ortica
#87. Beef Teriyaki Bowl, Teriyami
#86. Salmon Onigiri at Cream Pan
#85. Beef Fat Fries at SideDoor
#84. Silken Tofu & Thousand Year Old Egg at Asian Tapas
#83. Cambodian Beef Jerky at Sophy's
#82. Com Tam at Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
#81. Chipotle-Piloncillo Goat Cheese at SOL Cocina
#80. Nem Nuong Cuon at Au Lac Restaurant
#79. Blackened Mushroom & Tofu Burger at Taco Loco
#78. Fried Veggie Fish Fillet at Dong Phuong Tofu
#77. Tofu Vegetable Salad at BCD Tofu House
#76. Che Ba Mau at Thach Che Hien Khanh
#75. Barracuda Sushi at Ohshima
#74. Whole Lamb with Kabsa at Olive Tree
#73. 5 a.m. Chitterlings at Tri-Village
#72. Spinach Empanadas at El Gaucho #2
#71. Croissants at Molinos Bakery
#70. Beso de Monja at El Rincón del Sabor
#69. Fatteh at Kareem's
#68. Korean Beef Rib Sandwich at Kaffa
#67. Rice Flour Pupusas at Pupusería San Sivar
#66. The Hash Browns at Pop's Cafe
#65. Seven Courses of Beef at Thien An
#64. Baby Back Ribs at Blake's Place
#63. Fish and Chips at The Chippy
#62. Roasted Beef Marrow Bones at Brasserie Pascal
#61. The Lunch Buffet at Tandoor Cuisine of India
#60. Eggs, Charcuterie and Bread at Uyen Thy Bistro
#59. Wang Mandoo at Myung In
#58. Gobi Paratha at Traditions
#57. Kibbeh at Zait & Zaatar
#56. Chicago Dog at Portillo's
#55. Persian Buffet at Irvine's Wholesome Choice
#54. Anything at night at Joe's Italian Ice
#53. Salteñas at Rollie's Bakery
#52. Iskender Kabob at Doner G
#51. Secret Beer-Battered Fish Burrito at the OG Taco Adobe
#50. Bun Rieu at Kim Huong
#49. Truffle Fries at Andrei's
#48. Monday Night Pizza Special at Pizza Shack
#47. Corn Dog at Disneyland's The Little Red Wagon
#46. Linguini with Clams at Franco's Pasta Cucina
#45. Chamoyada at Natural
#44. Meatloaf at Memphis
#43. Paletas at Delicias de México
#42. Omakase at Sushi Shibucho
#41. Odessa Sandwich at Moscow Deli
#40. Tacos de Rajas con Queso at Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
#39. Crepes con Caramel at Anepalco's Cafe
#38. "Cobra" Chicken Sandwich at Memphis at the Santora.
#37. Beef Shawerma Plate at Sahara Falafel
#36. Flan at Taleo Mexican Grill
#35. Ahi Poke at Fish Camp
#34. Chao Chow Rice Noodle Soup at Trieu Chau
#33. Sweet Corn Soup at Raya At The Ritz Carlton
#32. Reuben Sandwich at Harry's Deli
#31. Enchilada Combo at Baja Fish Tacos
#30. Torta Ahogada at Los Primos
#29. Beef Panang from Thai Nakorn
#28. Quesadilla de Huitlacoche from Los Chilangos
#27. Haven Burger from Haven Gastropub
#26. Vegetarian Combo Platter at Tana Ethiopian
#25. Pecan-Sea Salt Tarts at Old Vine Cafe
#24. Fish Burrito at Los Cotijas
#23. Quarter, Half, or Whole Chicken at the Surfin' Chicken
#22. Kheema Dosa at Dosa Place
#21. Falafels at Kareem's Restaurant
#20. Hakata Ramen at Shin-Sen-Gumi
#19. Sausage at Sabatino's
#18. Deep Fried Fish with Mango Salad at Thai Nakorn
#17. Mexican Teriyaki Bowl at Mos 2
#16. Tripas Tacos at Taco Pronto
#15. Grilled Steak and Lobster Mashed Potatoes at Mastro's
#14. Strawberry Croissant at Cream Pan
#13. Fresh Sangak at Wholesome Choice

Location Info

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Ngu Binh Restaurant

14072 Magnolia St., Westminster, CA

Category: Restaurant

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