Quan Hy - Westminster
There were ten of us, converging to meet at Quan Hy in Westminster, like a conference of mobsters.
Eatdrinknbemerry and Oishii Eats, representing the LA Gang of Food Bloggers, put the event together while they were visiting our turf, and graciously invited the OC Bloggers which included myself, Beach, Chubbypanda and his fiancee Cat, Deb, Professor Salt and family.
We were all packing digital cameras, ready to shoot. And as the plates of food arrived, what occurred looked like a Mexican standoff, as only food bloggers could have it. All lenses were aimed and then, shutters clicked and snapped at the bounty; a Central Vietnamese feast which covered every square inch of the round table.
The first photos taken were of the Banh Beo ($4.75) and Banh Uot Tom Chay ($5.50), each delectable but identical and indistinguishable to those served at its sister restaurant, Quan Hop, which I previously reviewed on this blog.
Banh Quai Vac ($5.50), which were translated as "potstickers" on the menu, should have been dubbed "platestickers" since it grabbed onto the plate as if it had suction cups, and wouldn't budge without a fight. It was a demonstration on the adhesive power of glutinuous rice, here used as a wrapper for this translucent and luminous appetizer.
Once I was able to wrangle it off the plate and tuck it into my mouth, the bite-sized oval morsel also resisted my bite, chewing like a half-dozen gummy bears balled up into one. Beneath the playfully elastic membrane hid a phalanx of flavors, including pork and shrimp. The pair frolicked with diced mushroom in a filling both bold and rich. This was like dim sum amplified to eleven.
The Banh It Ram ($4.50) took the prize for textural and tactile overload. Not only did it possess the same components of the banh quai vac, it rested on a golden disk of fried rice cake, which had its own unique qualities to show off; a crunch noisier than a thousand pork rinds crushed by a thousand teeth.
In my skull, its raucous crackle reverberated and battled for aural dominance against the dampening might of the sticky glutinuous rice. It was like listening to an orchestra of crashing cymbals being suddenly muted by a tidal wave of slime. But in this game of one-upmanship, I was the victor.
Goi Mit ($10.00) was jackfruit salad with bits of shrimp and diced pork. This was my favorite of all the dishes, and also the most refreshing. Counterintuitive, since pork was a major constituent of the salad, existing in chewy clear, gelatin-packed pieces and in meaty slivers of greyish flesh. But with a tangy dressing that sliced through the protein pile like a vinegary blade, the salad did indeed delight the palate and made it beg for more.
Herbs such as lemongrass and and basil cut through further with an invigoratingly floral and garden-fresh flourish. Best of all were the planks of light-as-air rice crackers which surrounded the salad mound like a life raft. Depending on the user, they functioned as either crouton or scoop.
Not realizing that the others had each ordered a main course for themselves, and were already digging into them, I followed suit with an unadventurous choice in Bun Thit Nuong ($5.95). It was a wholly filling bowl of chilled and wiggly rice vermicelli noodles, resting on a bed of chopped lettuce and herbs. On top were the requisite pieces of grilled pork, with a generous sprinkling of sweet fried shallots. On the side, a ramekin of nuoc cham for dipping.
This was one of the better renditions of the dish I've had in a while, though next time, I'll be diving into the deeper depths of the menu, which also promises escargot, rice porridge, and jellyfish. More fodder for the food blogging paparazzi.
Quan Hy Restaurant
9727 Bolsa Ave
Westminster, CA 92683
To read Chubbypanda's report of the lunch:
--->>> CLICK HERE <<<---