One of our favorites is Golden Deli and we would be remiss if we excluded them from a list of great ethnic, off-the-beaten-path restaurants. Although there is a very well worn path to this front door, thanks in part to Jonathan Gold, who wrote, ” Golden Deli has the best cha gio — fried Vietnamese spring rolls — in the observable universe”
So we ordered them last night and have to admit the grease slicked, egg rolls stuffed with pork, vegetables and glass noodles are very tasty and this fact along with the Vietnamese style of eating them, sends these babies into the next stratosphere, as the good Mr. Gold points out.
Served with a plate of greens, the protocol is to grab a lettuce leaf and line it with fresh herbs, cucumber and bean sprouts, followed by the fried bundle and then roll the entire ensemble into a little burrito. We then dip the warm fried package, nestled in its greens coat, into the fish sauce which we spike with chili oil for an explosion of hot and cold, sweet and spicy, crunchy and soft, parcel of joy.
We are also huge fans of banh mi, the beloved combining of Vietnamese grilled meats, crisp herbs and vegetables into freshly baked French baguettes. Golden Deli’s version requires two hands to hold, it’s so unwieldy in size and shape. We opted for the grilled pork with its smokey essence, which is made even more compelling by a smear of mayonnaise, a profusion of cucumber, julienned carrots, cilantro and some smokin’ hot jalapeños. Are banh mi one of the best sandwiches in the world? We think so and at $5.00, it’s one of our best investments.
Moving on we dove into the pho, a rice noodle soup that we had to try two different ways. We started with the pho chin nam, brisket rice noodle soup.
The soup is accompanied by a plate of bean sprouts, herbs, jalapeños and lime wedges that are added to customers liking. We always ask for extra lime because we adore the way it sets off the meaty broth. We also add both chili paste and chili oil to give the bowl a little extra oomph.
We fell in love with the pho ga, chicken broth, tender chicken meat and rice noodle soup. The flavor was pure poultry heaven, which made us sure that someones grandmother must have had a hand in the concocting of this recipe.
We used our lime, herbs and bean sprouts to enhance this already perfect bowl, I guess you could say we were gilding the Lilly and boy was she impressive. Bowls of this liquid gold run from 8 to $9.50 depending on your choice of meat and they are large enough to share, but you may not want to.
It’s a joy to find our favorite old timers continuing to bring the best from their kitchen and based on the wait most nights, we appear to have consensus. Thank you to Golden Deli for sharing the joys of Vietnamese cuisine and for keeping it real over the long haul.
Golden Deli, 815 West Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel, CA 91776 Phone – 626-308-0803 web site – goldendelirestaurant.com
Golden Deli, 9664 Las Tunas Drive, Temple City, CA 91780
Phone – 626-285-2899