Hong An 7 Courses of Beef
9862 Westminster ste.
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Who says that the best dining in Southern California needs to be on the West side or even in Los Angeles? Much less than an hour south, there are hundreds of great Asian food offerings. This month, we take you to scenic Garden Grove, California. Close to Westminster, the Vietnamese enclave, is an unassuming restaurant called Hong An which serves Bo Bay Mon (literal translation: Beef Seven Courses). Once served only at weddings, this special feast is now available every day.
Before you think about your health and waist line, coinciding with the notion of you being force fed every cut of a cow, read on, the meal is actually trim and portioned just right.
The restaurant itself isn't the most exciting place, it's as large as a basketball court with rows upon rows of tables which can fit a small hungry army. You can opt to order an entire deep fried fish, which is also one of their specialties, or you can stick to their special program. Here's how the meal unfolds.
1) Salad. The first dish that shows up is the appetizer. It's a beef and shrimp salad. The beef is in strips and mixed with onion, chopped vegetables, lettuce, and more. This is a great way to start.
By this time, the waiter will bring some white round chips. These are actually wrap skins that you soak in water to soften, and you'll proceed to use them with entries 2-6.
2) Thin beef. Something like shabu shabu, this is thin sliced beef that you cook in boiling vinegar. The thin beef, along with your choice of veggies and herbs, make great small wraps. The folding technique is something like a burrito and the key is to not overstuff -- it'll break!
3) Grilled beef. Loaded with spices, oil, and sesame seeds, this one goes on the small table top grill. Are you fan of Korean food? This is the closest you'll get in this meal. It's delicious.
4) Meatballs. Vietnamese dishes like Bun (cold vermicelli noodles) often have tasty meatballs. These are just like those, but tastier.
5) Wrapped meat. (in photo it shares the same plate) This is ground beef wrapped in a flavorful leaf. Think Mediterranean food, and it's sort of in the ball park, but this isn't tart, it's savory.
6) Ground beef with shrimp cracker. This mix of beef, clear noodles, mushrooms, and spices make a perfect "beef spread" that you can easily scoop into the cracker. The leftovers can be wrapped, but at this point, you might be looking for something different. It's a nice dish towards the end of your meal since it's soft and much more mild.
7) The end of a lot of Asian meals might include some form of rice porridge. This dish features the least amount of beef. The meat is in tiny pieces in a beef broth, with rice, and English alphabet letters! Why are there letters in here?
The great part of this meal is that for the three of us, with drinks totaled around $40. What you save in food, may translate to fuel, but for the uninformed, this is a fun meal and a worthy adventure.
Thanks to Ian Nguyen for being a great host.