Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quan Hy's Xoi Ga - Westminster

Xoi Ga is sticky rice with chicken, a Vietnamese street dish that, if I wanted to oversimplify, closely mirrors Hainan chicken--boiled or steamed hen presented in pieces over rice. And that's what I was expecting when a friend ordered it at Quan Hy one night.

But what the menu described it as and what it actually was are entirely different. Quan Hy's Xoi Ga ($9.50) is far and away better than the words on the menu make it out to be. Contrary to the description, the chicken isn't so much "shredded" as it is compressed and fried--fried to be one of the most delectable pieces of poultry I've had in recent memory.

To look at it is to marvel its inception.

In its uniform flatness is a shape as sleek as an iPhone. An entire, intact chicken thigh is squeezed into this compact frame like a contortionist. The flavor is concentrated through and through, an aromatic marinade that tastes as familiar as what is used in traditional Vietnamese fried chicken called ga chien.

What's more, the meat is well-cooked, crisped to dark brown on the edges exposed to oil, moist everywhere else. The rendered skin crackles, slit like gills at strategic locations on the patty so that it stays attached during cooking.

Equal to the wondrous discovery of the chicken is the reinterpretation of the sweet rice. Formed into rectangular spears and also deep-fried, the eyes expect either a tater tot and a French toast stick. However, the mouth experiences something even better: it has an oily, Rice Krispy-like crunch leading to a soft, rice-pudding-like center, an ooey-gooey substance that absorbs the sweetened soy dipping sauce like a sponge.

The lesson from all this? Like all Little Saigon's restaurants, Quan Hy's menu descriptions undersell what it actually offers. After all, does "steamed rice-cakes with shredded shrimp" even begin to represent the miracle of their banh beo, their most popular Hue dish?

Quan Hy Restaurant
(714) 775-7179
9727 Bolsa Ave
Westminster, CA 92683

Sol de Sur - San Juan Capistrano


At 8:05 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

hmm..this dish sounds interesting, though $9.50 for a chicken leg...?
However, Quan Hy's banh beo ruleZ, as does their bun bo dac biet cha hue. I hear their com ga roti is good too.
Guess I need to get in there again...soon.

At 8:14 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I probably shouldn't say this, since Quan Hy's management might be reading, but I'd pay $12 for this dish! Another dish they do extremely well: Banh canh tom cua, white noodle soup w/ crab and shrimp. The noodles are thick and slippery like udon, the soup is rich, porridge-like!

At 8:31 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

OK, well then , I better get my butt over there & see what all this fuss is about ! =)
Especially if the price is going up.

At 8:40 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


"Especially if the price is going up."

God I hope they're not reading. Yes, I'd gladly pay $12; but I'd rather pay $9.50. ;-)

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Madison said...

So much can be lost in translation. I agree with you that a lot of Vietnamese restaurants' translation of their dishes leave much to be desired. If I was not already familiar with the food, I'd probably find some of the description pretty weird or bland sounding.

I must thank you for teaching me yet another thing today. I am Vietnamese and do not believe that I've ever had the pleasure of eating xoi ga. Didn't even know it existed. This looks good but all that deep fry stuff all on one plate may be too much for me. I have been meaning to go and try the banh beo there though. The banh quai vac photo from one of your older postings looks amazing delicious.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

Quan Hy's banh beo is the best I have had of all I've tried. They put fresh shreds of shrimp on each one, which is kickin' it up a notch in my book. Quan Vy Da , just down the street at the corner of Bolsa & Brookhurst also do an excellent take on this dish.

At 5:55 AM, Blogger Bill said...

I'm underwhelm by this joint high price and lack of substance. I might give them a 3rd change, but there banh beo is yummy.

At 8:33 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


It's so true. Lost translations are usually the norm at VNese restaurant menus. I suppose it encourages the rest of us who aren't native speakers to learn more of the least the food words. I mean, 10 years ago I wouldn't have thought banh mi would be a household word, but it is now! Pho, of course, has entered into the lexicon even before that!

And yes, I can certainly understand if the dish is way too much fried food for some, but me? I'm a fried food junkie! This also explains a lot about my physique. ;-)


I also like Ngu Binh's banh beo. By the way, you're usually on top of stuff I write...within hours you're trying it. I hope you tell me what you honestly think of the chicken, good or bad, when you do. If your thumb is down, the mitigating factor, I suppose, is that it's better to find that you don't like it at $9.50 than at $12!


You know I never paid attention to Quan Hy's prices until Chris and you mentioned it. To me, it seems reasonable. Maybe I'm acclimated to seeing anything below $10 as a bargain, what with the American and high-end restaurants I review for the Weekly. However, I can see how Quan Hy would be more pricey when compared to, say Ngu Binh. And it definitely is. Still love Quan Hy though!

At 10:03 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

Not sure I understand the "no substance" comment about Quan Hy's food. I am not VN, but I tend to eat VN several times a week in and around Little Saigon, and I find that Hy's Hue cuisine is pretty consistent, prepared well, and has authentic flavors.
In the last several years, there has been an effort by some VN restaurants to upgrade their menus and atmosphere in an effort to attractive younger diners who don't want to go to places that are "old school" and run down looking. All of which , of course costs money to do. So while Hy's prices might be considered "high" compared to, say Pho 79s, you are paying for a nicer dining area and more of "an experience".(Though their waitstaff could be friendlier) That's why there is Brodard & also Brodard Chateau, same food, different environment (& associated higher costs) Personally old & funky places suit me just fine, the food is what brings me there, not what color their wall tapestries are. But diners can be fickle , so some attention is being paid to the aesthetics of dining out too.

And yeah, I'll have to try this dish

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Bill said...

The last time I was here for lunch I had bun thit nuong but almost 3/4 of the bowl was roughage and bun with a few specs of meat with crap load of gristle.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger christoofat said...


Did you send it back?
I would have.

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Bill said...

I was concern about unwanted stuff in my food if I sent it back.

At 8:23 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

"I was concern about unwanted stuff in my food if I sent it back."


At 8:32 AM, Blogger ChowNoir said...

Oooh, thanks for this. I've been trying to update my GG/Westminster list for my occasional forays down to OC. This looks amazing and I'm fascinated by the treatment. The price doesn't seem overly high to me given the amount of work needed.

Maybe when I go, I'll make a comment that it would be a great dish at $6.50. That should balance out your price point and keep it at $9.50, haha!

At 6:59 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Agreed! It does seem like a dish that would take more effort than usual! And yes, please do that. Please offset the price down!


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