Orange County’s Little Saigon straddling the cities of Garden Grove and Westminster in Orange County, California is the largest Little Saigon in the United States. Saigon is the former name of the capital of the former South Vietnam, where a large number of first-generation Vietnamese immigrants originate. Little Saigon is the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam, with a population of almost 200,000, several Vietnamese-language newspapers, and hundreds of restaurants spread over three square miles. Here is a list of amazing Vietnamese restaurants to visit in Little Saigon, Orange County.
1. Hoa Sen
Hoa Sen, Brookhurst Street, Garden Grove, CA,...
Vegan Vietnamese fare is a treat for carnivores and herbivores alike. The flavors here are true to form, while the mock meats don’t disappoint. The expansive menu means that there’s something for everyone.
2. Khởi Hưng Restaurant
Khởi Hưng Restaurant
Khởi Hưng Restaurant, Westminster Avenue, Gar...
This French-Vietnamese bistro is tucked into an already inconspicuous strip mall, but follow your nose — the scent of sizzling stone plates of garlic-butter filet mignon and lamb chops intensifies as one approaches this hidden gem. The true star of the show, though, is their bò lúc lắc. Khoi Hung’s rendition is a departure from the more black pepper-forward shaken beef dishes at institutions like Tan Cang Newport Seafood. Khoi Hung’s version comes draped in a buttery, rich gravy that cranks the umami up to 11, and is perfect with a bowl of rice.
3. Bến Ngự
Bến Ngự Restaurant
Bến Ngự Restaurant, Garden Grove Boulevard, G...
Banh it ram is one of the Vietnamese cuisine’s great pleasures — little rice dough dumplings stuffed with shrimp and pork sit on top of an airy, crunchy fried rice dough base. Ben Ngu’s rendition is one of Little Saigon’s most popular. Don’t sleep on the mi quảng (a Central Vietnamese noodle dish of wide, flat noodles and various toppings with fresh vegetables and herbs), either.
4. Phở Akaushi
Pho Akaushi’s new sleek, modern digs are a departure from the original location inside the Saigon supermarket. It only takes one look at the extra-fine grease bubbles and a taste of that clean-yet-robust broth to know that Pho Akaushi hasn’t forgotten the attention to detail and labor-intensive hustle that got them here. While pricier than most competitors (owing to the use of the restaurant’s eponymous American wagyu), true fans of beef phở will find the experience more than worth the splurge.
Pho Akaushi, Garden Grove Boulevard, Garden G...
5. Phở 79
Phở 79, Hazard Avenue, Garden Grove, CA, USA
For the past three-and-a-half decades, crowds have descended upon this shop for tremendous bowls of “pho dac biet” brimming with brisket, tripe, and beef meatballs. Fixings can be added and subtracted based on individual tastes, but the broth — rich from long-simmered oxtails and fragrant from charred onions and star anise — is universally slurpable.
6. Ba Lẹ Sandwiches
Ba Lẹ Sandwiches
Ba Lẹ Sandwiches, Bolsa Avenue, Westminster, ...
This humble storefront (that also sells lottery tickets — don’t ask) might have Korean dramas with Vietnamese subtitles blaring from the TV and a surly-looking Vietnamese lady taking your order. It’s part of the charm of Ba Le, but the magic in their banh mi is in the bread — warm, crunchy with an ethereal airy crumb, it’s hands down one of the best values in food. Make sure to eat the sandwich quickly — that crumb doesn’t travel well, and you might spot a certain Eater writer eating one in his car in the parking lot.
7. Tân Cảng Newport Seafood
Tan Cang Newport Seafood Restaurant - Garden Grove, CA
Tan Cang Newport Seafood Restaurant - Garden ...
Often imitated but never duplicated, the original Tan Cang Newport Seafood in this Santa Ana strip mall makes the best stir-fried lobster around. The signature lobster arrives piping hot, hacked into manageable bits, and ready for the taking. Order the tender bò lúc lắc (Vietnamese shaking beef) for the complete surf and turf experience.
8. 405 Hủ Tiếu Restaurant
405 Hu Tieu Restaurant
405 Hu Tieu Restaurant, Beach Boulevard, West...
Among the places I went to eat, there was a place at this 405 restaurant where there were tourists in groups from Vietnam to eat. The bowl of filial pie is huge, but I still can't stop myself from ordering another bowl of zucchini to go with it - it's so self-indulgent. Why? Because delicious! Soft meat, fresh shrimp, delicious broth, you know how to control that happiness.
9. Phở Nguyễn Huệ
Phở Nguyễn Huệ
Phở Nguyễn Huệ, Bolsa Avenue, Westminster, CA...
The free range birds at this Little Saigon institution are available steamed on their own, but make sure to get it as part of their phở gà — the extra-fine grease bubbles in the broth are evident of a thorough skimming of schmaltz, resulting in a refreshing, clean broth that’s good to the last drop.