The Missus and I were really trying to make the most of our little roadtrip to Little Saigon. We exercised restraint at Song Long with a second stop in mind. Our good friend "Yummy Yummy" had told us that the Banh Beo she had at Ngu Binh was among the best she could recall. So of course we had to stop by.
Though it wasn't even 11 yet, the place was packed. We lucked out and managed to get a table right away. The menu is concise, made up of the specialties of Central Vietnam, Bun Bo Hue, Banh Bot Loc, Banh Beo, you get the picture. For us, this was the way. Do what you do well.
We'd already put away a decent amount of food, and "banh" can be pretty filling and substantial. We went with the "sampler" of Banh Beo, Banh Ram, and Banh Bot Loc ($6.50):
I knew I'd like this place when the plate arrived garnished with chicharron. The Banh Beo was right on target with regards to my texture preferences. It's usually either too hard and gummy or soft and doughy. I loved the tenderness, which exerted just the right amount of pull for me. The ground shrimp added nice savory tones....oh, and the nuoc mam cham was nice and strong! The Missus thought the Banh Beo was too tender and not chewy enough. Her favorite was th Banh Nam; that smear of dumpling like rice flour based dough, the nice smokiness from banana leaves, She just loved it. The Banh Bot Loc were good, though a bit more chewy then I appreciate; but overall, this was excellent.
We also ordered the Banh It Banh Ram ($6.50).
Having grown up eating mochi, I've always felt a bit of affection for this rather dense and heavy bomb of glutinous rice dumpling, filled with shrimp, which sits on an a dense fried dumpling whose texture remind me of agemochi. It is quite filling, though the version here is probably the best I've had in terms of execution, flavor, and texture.
In the end, we had quite a day, going two for two. We'll definitely be back to Ngu Binh.
Ngu Binh Restaurant
14072 Magnolia St
Westminster, CA 92683