Anh Hong Restaurant (Garden Grove)
My interest in eating Bo Bay Mon (Vietnamese seven course beef) was only intensified after our 8 course fish tasting at Nhu Y Ca 8 Mon. I know I must have tried it at least once in my lifetime due to my heritage so the next question was WHERE to go next? How about the place recommended by the grandparents?
Dennis, the family and I arrived at Anh Hong Restaurant, a large restaurant located in Garden Grove. The menu included regular Vietnamese fare but their specialty was the Bo Bay Mon, priced at 16.95 per order. Other than the salad and soup courses, each order had 3 pieces of meat per course.
Course 1: Goi Bo Anh Hong - special beef salad
The salad starter consisted of shredded carrots, celery and mint on top with fried onions and very thin slices of beef (boiled) and peanuts. Fish sauce played a big part in the flavor of this dish because the salad alone was on the plain side! Some pre-mixed versions are a little too heavy on the fish sauce but since I was able to control the distribution, I was happy with this healthy appetizer.
Course 2: Bo Nhung Dam - beef fondue with special vinegar broth
The waiter began bringing out the ingredients for spring rolls. A medium sized soup bowl of simmering vinegar broth was placed on our table, like a little mini stove. The vinegar taste was on the mild side and was flavored by the mild green onions.
Here were the slices of beef tenderloin, approximately 4 inch diameter in size and very thinly cut. These were to be cooked in the heated broth for 5-10 seconds (depending on desired wellness).
The banh trang (rice paper) and veggies such as lettuce, mint and cucumber were also brought out but I noticed the slices of cucumber were not fresh and a bit dried out. Using all the ingredients, you roll your own spring roll, though there were no printed instructions like at Nhu Y Ca 8 Mon. The people who go here know what to do! For this dish, the broth doesn't really flavor the meat too much so you get a basic healthy spring roll. In fact, the fish sauce is probably the strongest taste you'd get from this course.
The next four courses were served on a single plate and were ready to be added to your own spring rolls (using same components as above).
Course 3: Bo Cha Dum - steamed pate beef
On the left was a vietnamese meatloaf mixed with nuts, mushrooms and various Vietnamese spices. I mainly tasted the pate/meat mix and a too-strong pea-presence but would run into the occasional thin strings of clear noodle or mushroom. I'm not a fan of this, especially the taste of the mushy peas. Perhaps it's too traditional Vietnamese for me but Dennis was fine with it.
Course 4: Bo Mo Chai - grilled ground beef sausage
In the middle was a tasty ground beef sausage mixture with spices and spices broiled over charcoal. This was one of our favorite meats of the bunch. The sausage was succulent with adequate seasoning and shone through when rolled into a spring roll.
Course 5: Bo La Lot - beef wrapped in hawaiian lot leaf
The top was grilled minced beef rolled in special aromatic lot leaf flown in fresh from hawaii. The outer portions leafs were quite sticky (watch out for your teeth) and grilled very dark. It had a slightly pungent sauce to pair with it that I didn't try (but Dennis did). There were also softened peanuts mixed in with the meat which I thought was a bit strange.
Course 6: Bo Nuong Xa - grilled beef with lemongrass
The bottom was slices of tenderloin rolled over lemongrass and onion grilled on charcoal. The beef itself was slightly chewy while the rest were considerably softer in the sausage form. The lemongrass insides were very prominent and there were longer chewier strands inside (from either the onion or lemongrass). I was not quite a fan of this one either.
Course 7: Chao Ba - special beef rice soup
I expected rice porridge but this turned out to be a rich rice soup with ground beef, onion and pasta. This one was like a simple home broth (like comfort broth).
So that was everything in the 7 course meal. The restaurant also had the option to get a 4 course or 5 course but the price difference was only 1.50 between the sizes so why not go all out? Since I'm still quite unfamiliar with the 7 course meal, I have to say that overall, even though I love spring rolls, I'm iffy for the meal set because there were several meats I didn't care for as much.
I don't know of any reputable restaurants in San Diego that serve this so I'll stick to Orange County next time someone's in the mood for seven course beef.
Anh Hong Restaurant
10195 Westminster Ave
Garden Grove CA 92843