Delicious Vegan Pho @ Thuyen Vien

Yes, you read correctly. Delicious. Vegan. Pho. Thuyen Vein is a small restaurant in Garden Grove that we had put off going to for a while just because Garden Grove is so far south of where we usually are. When we finally had the opportunity to visit, boy, we were not disappointed at all.

Thuyen Vien

Although we only had a few hours before dinner and shouldn’t have had such a large lunch, I couldn’t help but order some eggrolls as appetizers. When can I ever turn down freshly fried eggrolls? The eggrolls from Thuyen Vien came out dangerously hot, but I scarfed one down immediately.  The filling was good, the skin crispy, and the vegan fish sauce to dip it in was convincing. The one gripe I have about the eggroll dish was that it didn’t come with the pickled slivers of radish and carrot. Don’t let the picture fool you, those were just regular carrots in the sauce, not pickled.

Thuyen VienOn that note, let’s talk about how to eat a Vietnamese eggroll.  Now I’m not going to say this is authentic, but this is how my family (with members who lived in Vietnam) eats them.  Eggrolls are best when they come fresh out of the fryer and are almost too hot to touch. But how do you get them in your mouth without getting third degree burns? Lettuce!

Wrap each roll in a big leaf of lettuce with a few leaves of mint, some pickled radish and carrots (missing here unfortunately!), and then dip into the dipping sauce. Hopefully the dipping sauce and cool lettuce is sufficient protection from the heat of the eggroll. If not, man up and eat it anyway. Hot eggrolls are excellent.

Prior to eating at Thuyen Vien, I had a special place in my heart for Vin Loi Tofu in the valley.  It was the best place to get vegetarian (vegan even??) Vietnamese noodle soup and their home-made hot sauce was always a treat.  Other than at Vin Loi, I’m cautious about ordering vegetarian noodle soups just because the real deal (with meat!) is so good there’s no way a non-meat version can stack up.

Thuyen Vien

Well, beef pho, meet your veggie match:  pho bo from Thuyen Vien.  Now I’m not saying the broth is as good as the liquid gold at places like Golden Deli, but damn, it comes close. The spicing has the perfect amount of star anise, salt, and other magical pho broth ingredients.  All it was missing was the beefy flavor, which most veg*ns probably won’t miss.

The fake beef pieces I could do without, but the rest of the toppings were excellent as well.  The shiitake mushrooms were fresh and packed full of umami flavor. The king trumpet mushrooms also were good and not their usual boring selves. The noodles: perfectly cooked as well.

Thuyen Vien

The BF ordered bun bo hue, which unfortunately after tasting the fantastic beef pho was a notch lower in quality.  It wasn’t bad by any means.  It was strong with lemongrass flavor and had a nice kick thanks to the chili peppers, but the broth just wasn’t as deep or as satisfying as the meat version.  If I hadn’t had the pho before, I would have liked this bowl better.

Thuyen Vien is definitely a place any vegetarian (and vegan) who likes Vietnamese food should visit.  I scoff at anyone who claims that this place has the best bowl of pho ever, but I believe it when they say it has the best bowl of veggie pho ever.  It’s so delicious, I don’t doubt that there’s a crapload of MSG in each spoonful. I certainly was thirsty immediately after leaving the restaurant.  But hey, I have nothing against MSG!  The only bad thing I can say about this restaurant is it’s so damn far from where I live.

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Thuyen Vien
11080 Magnolia St
Garden Grove, CA 92842
(714) 638-8189
Thuyen Vien in Los Angeles

Jasmine Market: Fish Noodle Soup

I finally got the chance to try out the fish noodle soup at Jasmine Market tonight for dinner.  I was just going to go home and cook up some fried rice, but I thought, “Hey, the BF isn’t around, and they only have this soup at night and on weekends, so what better time to try it?”

Fish noodle soup @ Jasmine Market

The noodle soup was everything I had hoped it to be.  Thick, savory, slightly pungent with that salty fish smell, filling, warming, and best of all, cheap.  Seriously cheap.  I got a bowl, which was the perfect amount, and a can of coconut juice and it ended up being only $5.08!  I’m salivating just thinking about the soup again.

I also finally met the dad who works at the restaurant.  He was really friendly and enthusiastic about the food.  While I was eating, several regulars came in and they seemed to all be good buddies. It gave me a warm feeling, or it could just be the delicious soup.

I lamented to the dad about how I always want this soup during lunch, but it’s unavailable. According to him, it’s too much of a heatlh department hassle because of the rice noodles. They take a while to cook, and the health department wants them to put the rice noodles in the fridge if no one is eating it. Of course, that ruins the noodles’ texture.  So the family decided to just serve the soup at dinner when they have a little more time to prepare and more people order it, I assume.

My favorite dish at Jasmine Market used to be the Paaya soup, but now, I have to say it’s this one.  I’ll be dreaming about the fish noodle soup tonight.

Jasmine Market
4135 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 313-3767