Huong Huong - Westminster
Say you've been invited to potluck but you can't cook. Or your family's hungry, and you don't have much time or money to burn. There are a myriad of options, of course, most of them involving take-out. But for my hard-earned cash, there's Little Saigon's food-to-go shops -- establishments that exist just for these very reasons.
In particular, there's Huong Huong, a stop-in-and-get-out food-to-go shop with its own parking lot (albeit a tiny one) on Westminster's main drag of Bolsa.
There, Vietnamese home-style food sits ready in chafing dishes, under heat lamps, or wrapped in cellophane.
The choices are dizzying. Essentially, it's an entire buffet condensed into a few square feet of space. Proteins from animals that once swam, grazed, or clucked are all ready to be consumed, sold as combos with rice ($4 for two items, $5.25 for three), or by weight.
Some are stews rich in gravy, others are stir fried. There's ground beef stogies wound up in peppery la lot leaves, broiled and rammed through sticks. These are heftier, meatier, if not a bit cruder than the versions offered at proper seven courses of beef restaurants.
Fish dishes exist in as many colors as you'd find on a scuba dive. But one, which looked to be salmon, is chopped in bite-sized cross-sections, deep-fried and steeped in a rich, funky-tasting, red-tinged sauce I loved, but others may find off-putting. The likely secret ingredient? Fermented shrimp paste.
For the vegetarians, there's even a few tofu dishes. Their cha gio -- perenially crispy Vietnamese egg rolls the size of shotgun shells -- are the perfect two-bite appetizer to serve party guests.
The dish that's my go-to for to-go are the thit nuong, strips of charbroiled pork, which is normally the focal point on a plate of com tam. They're charred in just the right spots, well-marinated, and most importantly: cheap and always ready when I get there.
9262 Bolsa Ave # 3
Westminster, CA 92683
THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Hak Heang - Long Beach