Long Beach Lunch: Binh Duong

Sarah Bennett

Usually when somewhere claims to be the "best in town," it's a euphemism for "just decent." However, when a Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of Long Beach's Cambodia Town splashes it all over their paper marketing, take heed.

Most Vietnamese grub in Long Beach rests on the laurels of banh mis (like My Le) and cheap bowls of pho (like Pho Hong Phat). Unlike in nearby Orange County where literally hundreds of restaurants dish out non-soup-and-sandwich Viet specialties like banh hoi, bun, chao, and com tams, Long Beach only has one: Binh Duong.

As the only all-embracing Vietnamese restaurant in town, Binh Duon's claim to be the best is technically true by default. But it's beef balls, shredded pork bi cuons, and all sorts of carby banh offerings are also good enough to go up against some of Little Siagon's favorites.

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The Explosion of Flavor at Quan Hen

Categories: Viet Vittles

Dave Lieberman
The problem with being a Mỹ trắng and wanting to eat well in Little Saigon is that restaurants tend to dumb down their English names: the English sign will say "Vietnamese Restaurant", but their specialities are nearly always stenciled in Vietnamese on the front window. If you can learn a few words such as (fish), (beef), (chicken) and (goat), the names of the noodles, like phở, bún, and hủ tiếu, and a few words for preparation like nướng (grilled), chiên (fried) and canh (soup) you're halfway there.

Quan Hen, perched at the end of an L-shaped, two-story plaza at Magnolia and Westminster that also contains the very well-known Ngu Binh, says it's a Vietnamese restaurant. It's not a phở shop, though; It is not a bún bò Huế shop. It sells these items, but the dishes listed on the front window are cá nướng da dòn (baked catfish with crispy skin), lẩu mắm (anchovy hot pot), and lẩu dê (goat hot pot).

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Mứt Tết What? A Guide to the Vietnamese Lunar New Year Candy Tray

Categories: Viet Vittles

A little bit of everything!

During the Vietnamese New Year, celebrators place trays full of candies colored red, orange, and white out in their homes. This tray is the mứt tết, and without it, there's basically no new year. But despite its ubiquity, the mứt tết can look a little confusing between the dustry swirls, wrapped Gusher look-alikes, and miniature dried fruits.

Don't want to look confused the next time you're in a Vietnamese house? We've got you covered, from the candied coconut to the sugar-glazed peanuts.

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5 Vietnamese Foods to Try In Time for Tet

Photo by Nguyen Quan
Happy New Year!

It's Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration this week, completely with explosions, tradition and food. Want to be an intermediate-level Tet-food-eater? Here are five foods full of glutinous rice, mung beans, and banana leaves for you to try out.

Is it a little work to eat? Yeah, and it might not be the healthiest thing either, but hey, you probably gave up on being leaner already, and you might as well get some good luck (and red envelops) for your hard work.

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5 Great Vietnamese Soups That Aren't Pho

Fuck Yeah Pho
Not the end all when it comes to Vietnamese soup

When you think Vietnamese cuisine, it's no question that pho comes to mind, and it's completely reasonable that it does. However, it'd be a shame to miss out on other Vietnamese soups that, though blood brothers of California's favorite soup, play on completely different flavors, smells, and textures.

If you haven't experimented with Vietnamese soups yet, you're going to want to now. Here are 5 great Vietnamese soups to start.

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Tastea Announces New Fourth Location

Categories: News, Viet Vittles


Tastea, the Orange County boba bar operated by Cal State Fullerton grads Ted Vu and Scott Nguyen, announced their fourth location today, to be opened in early 2014. The new tea spot will be located in Costa Mesa at the corner of Fairview and Baker, in the same plaza as Ramen Yamada and roughly half a block away from Orange Coast College.

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Pho Song Hai Gets the Good Food Treatment!

Categories: Viet Vittles

It's been almost a year since I reviewed Pho Song Hai in Little Saigon, almost a year since Dos Chinos' Hop Phan recommended the place to me, and the lines still haven't ceased. The lines will only get longer as listeners of KCRW-FM 89.9's Good Food with Evan Kleiman make a trek to this place, after I reviewed it on the show this past weekend.

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UC Irvine Lee's Sandwiches Closed, Chick-fil-A to Open

Photo by Charles Lam
So sad

The UC Irvine Lee's Sandwiches, located in the University Town Center, is gone for good after 8 years in business. A Chick-fil-A is slated for the now vacant space, which is just across the bridge from campus.

Looks like Anteaters won't have to deal with other students eating anchovies on the shuttles any longer.

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Phuong's in Little Saigon, Mother-in-Law Kimchi from Little Seoul Get the Good Food Treatment

Categories: Viet Vittles

Yesterday, our new art director asked me about the hu tieu place I had just plugged on Good Food with Evan Kleiman on KCRW-FM 89.9. "Hu tieu? I don't like hu tieu," I replied.

"No, you specifically mentioned them!" he said.

I thought about it for a bit. "Phuong's?" I shot back. I had reviewed the restaurant for this infernal rag back in November and had recorded a commentary shortly after. "They make good bánh hoi, and an awesome soup--but it ain't hu tieu."

Turned it it DID make hu tieu, and the soup I don't like from the Vietnamese galaxy is mi. OOPS...anyhoo, my valentine to Phuong's appeared this week.

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Pagolac Moves After Nearly 24 Years In Business; Golden Elephant Takes Over And Updates Old Space

Categories: Viet Vittles

In case you were worried that Pagolac, one of Little Saigon's best and oldest 7 courses-of-beef restaurants, seemed to have been replaced after nearly 24 years in business by a new Thai eatery called Golden Elephant at 14580 Brookhurst in Westminster, do not fret: Pagolac has merely moved to newer digs a few blocks away at 15470 Magnolia (near McFadden).

What's more, what replaced it is a hybrid Thai/Vietnamese restaurant where you can order hu tieu as well as pad Thai.

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