In this week’s OC Register, my Short Order review calls attention to Hue Oi, an outstanding Vietnamese restaurant specializing in the regional cuisine of central Vietnam. The restaurant just opened in Fountain Valley last month after outgrowing and shutting down its original space in Garden Grove late last year. Briefly, here five recommendations from the menu.
Bun Bo Hue
1. Bun Bo Hue (#H1). Think of this Hueá noodle soup as a turbo-injected pho. It’s spicy and dark and rich, filled with springy noodles plus beef shank, pork leg sausage and blood pudding.
Banh Beo Dia
2. Banh Beo Dia (#H5). Must. Order. These. Quivering rice-flour cakes topped with ground dried shrimp, green onion, fried shallot and crispy pork skin, plus a slice of blazing-hot bird’s eye chile.
Hen Xao Xuc Banh Trang
3. Hen Xao Xuc Banh Trang (#A5). The owner told me I probably wouldn’t like this dish because I’m not Vietnamese, and she encouraged me to order something else (all the while enthusiastically recommending it to my Vietnamese dining companions). I said, “Bring it on!” And it’s delicious, a big heap of baby clams stir-fried with onion and mint and served with a huge black sesame rice cracker.
4. Banh Nam (#H7). Think of these as Vietnamese tamales, except they’re somewhat squishy and gelatinous. That’s because the dough is made with rice flour, which is topped with a mixture of ground shrimp and scallions, then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Dipped into a little bit of hot sauce, mmm.
Bun Tom Thit Nuong Cha Gio
5. Bun Tom Thit Nuong Cha Gio (#B4) . This dish isn’t from Hue, per se. This is a classic Vietnamese noodle dish, a big bowl of cold rice noodles topped with grilled pork, shrimp, fried egg rolls, lettuce, and whatnot just waiting to be doused with lime-chile fish sauce. Just about every decent Vietnamese restaurant serves this, and it doesn’t get much better than this.
6. Che Thai (#D16) . OK, one more. Dessert. Very simple. A glass of iced half & half studded with tropical fruit jello squares.
16537 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, CA, 714-531-1305