the first time we went to brodard about a year ago, our friends advised us that we should go to the ghetto one, yes, the one located at the back of a mostly deserted mall, rather than their “chateau” location. to be fair, brodard isn’t particularly ghetto in my book. sure, it’s crowded, loud, located in the back of the mall and they don’t take reservations, but i’ve been to applebee’s that are far more ghetto than brodard. plus, during the lunar new year, they have on display some of the most gorgeous orchid arrangements that i’ve seen — great giant vases that would fit in very well in the grand ballroom of mandarin oriental.
now, something odd happened the first time we went to brodard. we were too full from gorging on a giant taiwanese breakfast in rowland heights, that we couldn’t really eat anything at brodard come lunch hour. this time, i was determined to sample brodard at its finest. with an empty stomach, we drove about an hour from downtown LA to garden grove. after a short wait, we were seated and quickly placed our order. we selected four dishes as we were only two people, but there were plenty more that we wanted to try.
- nem nuong cuon and chao tom cuon: brodard is famous for their grill pork paste and grilled shrimp paste steam rolls. every table at the packed restaurant ordered heaping plates of the rolls. the elements that distinguish these rolls from the usual variety one finds on nyc vietnamese restaurants are: (a) the tightness in which the rolls are wound, (b) the inclusion of crispy spring roll skins within the wrapping for textural interest, and (c) the dipping sauce — something crab based, a bit like the sauce at fatty crab, but with less tang and heat.
- mi kho dac biet with tomato sauce: is a bowl of egg noodles topped with shrimp, bbq pork, quail eggs, pork organs and plenty of herbs on the side. 2 bowls of broth (one clear, one tomato based) are served on the side. you pour them into the broth when you’re ready to eat. the separation of noodle and broth is to ensure that the noodles don’t get soggy. the dish can be ordered with a garlic based sauce as well; however, not knowing which one to choose, i deferred to our waiter who recommended the tomato sauce. and indeed, i found it to be incredibly succulent and flavorful — a taste that is achieved after the sauce has gurgled and bubbled away for many hours and all its core ingredients have surrendered their taste elements.
- shaken beef: don’t get me wrong, the beef here is quite good. tasty and tender, but i prefer the version at Crustacean. i think i found the peppers and onions a distraction.
- banh xeo: a large crepe, whose batter is whipped up by substituting cow’s milk for coconut milk, and wheat flour for rice flour, resulting in something that is far crispier than the original french crepe. the brodard version is lightly stuffed with shrimp, pork, onions, bean sprouts and served with a big plate of lettuce and herbs. we tore off a chunk of crepe, wrapped it in some lettuce and herbs and dipped it into fish sauce. i’m not sure if we ate the crepe correctly, but it sure tasted delicious.
all in, the vietnamese food at brodard is unlike anything i’ve ever encountered in new york city. i’d even go so far to say, that you haven’t really had vietnamese food in all its glory until you’ve tasted something on the caliber of brodard. although i’m sure i’ll end up adjusting that statement when i finally make it over to vietnam. . .
Nem Nuong Brodard
9892 Westminster Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92844
Sunday – Monday 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Wednesday – Saturday 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM