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By Manda Bear
Banh Canh Cua – Udon-like Crab & Pork Noodle Soup
Truong Thanh Restaurant
680 Barber Ln
Milpitas, CA 95035
Phone: (408) 383-0886
When I crave for Banh Canh Cua, and my mother too busy to cook, I come here for it. One of my childhood memories that I vividly remember how my grandma cooked this delicious bowl of Banh Canh Cua, each time I got a cold. It’s a dish originated from Northern Vietnam where my grandma from. Forget about Pho Ga (Chicken Pho noodle soup), I want a bowl Banh Canh Cua. Banh Canh Cua came to my rescue as a perfect hangover noodle soup, this slippery udon-like noodles, I can just slurp it till the last drop of the thicken savory broth.
Banh Canh is literally translated to Soup Cake. Banh Canh Cua is #1 on their menu, they use a thick Vietnamese noodle, similar to Japanese udon, that can be made from tapioca flour or a mixture of rice and tapioca flour, serve in thick broth of pork and bone, serves in the big bowl of noodle soup with crab meat, pork, topping with spring onion, scallion, cilantro; serves on the side of bean sprout, lime, and chili. When Dungeness crab is in season, they serve the whole crab legs for you. My mouth is watering just think about it now. Truong Thanh Restaurant serves it best in the Bay Area. Don’t tell my mother, that I prefer this place, it’s as good as my grandma used to make for me.
Hu Tieu Ba Nam Sa Dec Meat & Seafood Noodle Soup
Vung Tau Restaurant
535 E Santa Clara Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 288-9055
VUNG TAU Restaurant is the most consistent Vietnamese restaurant in the Silicon Valley. After so many years, this is still the most successful family runs Vietnamese restaurant around town. Every time we have relatives visiting from out of town, my mom would take them here.
The majority of the dishes here at VUNG TAU Restaurant are on point in flavor, taste, and authenticity. Dinner serve in family style to share but I love to take some of my non-Vietnamese clients here to showcase the food I grow up with. And one of my favorite dishes here for lunch, is “Hu Tieu Ba Nam Sa Dec”, a dish originated from Sa Dec City, Dong Thap Province, Mekong Delta of Southern Vietnam; Ba Nam literally means Mrs. #5, it’s a common for the Southern families to call their children by the birth order, rather than their names. This glass noodle (Mung Bean) with pork bone broth serves on the side (dry style); the glass noodle is topping off with jumbo prawn, crab claw, ground pork in tomato sauce & a crispy fritter shrimp cake. Serves with a side of beans sprout, lime, and chili, mix everything together, you have a bowl of Southern Vietnamese goodness.
Bun Moc Pork & Ham Noodle Soup
Pho Ga Hung
1818 Tully Road, # 120
San Jose, CA 95122
Phone: (408) 238-2543
Inconveniently located inside the Lion Plaza Food Court in East San Jose, CA, It can be tough to find a table here at lunch time and sometimes or weekend. However, Pho Ga Hung offers better Pho Ga chicken noodle soup than most Pho places around Silicon Valley. But don’t let the restaurant name fools you, PHO GA HUNG offers a whole lot more Northern Vietnamese dishes than just Pho.
1 of the dishes that I love to eat on a raining day, the kind of comfort food, noodle soup that I can only get at home in my mom’s kitchen. I find it here at Pho Ga Hung, their special noodle soup Bun Moc. This underrated light noodle soup is very popular in Ha Noi, Vietnam, while most of us are familiar with PHO, and maybe BUN BO HUE; this noodle soup is hearty and much lighter than other ever popular Vietnamese noodle soups.
This rice stick noodle soup made from a pork bone, pork base, and dried shiitake mushroom broth. The meats are mainly Vietnamese ham/pork sausage – “Cha” (similar to spam), the steamed one wrapped in banana leaves & broiled, the fried ham, and the cinnamon ham, and raw pork sausage mixed with dried shiitake mushroom, serves as meat balls in the broth; serves with a side plate of fresh herbs, and shredded water spinach (Ong Choy), when it’s in season, fresh chili, and lime. This noodle soup is so delicious and somehow, it’s forgotten in most of Vietnamese restaurants in Silicon Valley. If you are dare to venture out of your comfort zone, try this noodle soup and I’m sure you will fall in love.
Canh Bun Crab & Shrimp Noodle Soup
Com Tam Thanh
1150 Story Rd
San Jose, CA 95122
Phone: (408) 278-1888
Another popular Vietnamese in East San Jose, CA, COM TAM THANH restaurant is specialized in “Broken Rice dishes,” but they also offer many authentic dishes from Northern Vietnam. This family runs has been here for almost 2 decades. I love seeing the owner, in her late 60s, she’s always at the cashier, beautifully make up, and has a biggest smile greeting you in Vietnamese. She’s one of the hardest working women and she makes killer dishes like this Canh Bun soup here, that there is no competitors can come close.
Canh Bun is quite similar to Bun Rieu, a Northern Vietnamese rice noodle soup with tomato based but serves with thicker rice noodle, almost like the noodle in Bun Bo Hue. The broth are from pork, shrimp, and crab based, accompaniments with fried tofu, congealed pork blood, shrimp paste, and steamed water spinach (Ong-Choy), chive, chili and lime. The crab meat smashed in with shrimp paste then combines with eggs, it becomes fluffy, and it melts in your mouth when you eat it. If you love seafood, tangy, and hearty flavor, try this special dish.
Bun Bo Hue Spicy Beef & Pork Noodle Soup
Bun Bo Hue An Nam
740 Story Road, Ste 3
San Jose, CA 95122
Phone: (408) 993-1755
The restaurant name says it all: BUN BO HUE AN NAM. Unlike any other Vietnamese Restaurants in San Jose, Bun Bo Hue An Nam only serves this 1 dish, and they serve it real well, even the infamous chef Andrew Zimmern from the TV show “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” had praised his visit here. Hue city is famous for all the spicy & tasty dishes in central Vietnam and Bun Bo Hue is a very popular dish here for foodies in Silicon Valley.
My best friend Coco’s family is from Hue City. She cooks Bun Bo Hue for me once or twice a year, if I get lucky, and she cooks with a lot of love. This dish reminds me of her, colorful, beautiful, spicy and full of flavor, just like her. She taught me how to make it, but it would take me a whole day to make it. So Bun Bo Hue An Nam is my best bet in the Bay Area. This spicy Hue noodle soup serves with pork leg, pork, beef, congealed pork blood, in spicy lemongrass and shrimp paste tasty broth, that has been shimmering for half a day with beef bones, beef shank, oxtail, pork knuckles; then pour this broth over the tick rice noodle, topping it off with Hue ham, coriander, green onion, and onion. Serves with banana blossom, mint, basil, bean sprouts, lime, and add a little sate chili to the broth, bring out the best flavor in all. If you love spicy, this is a must try for you.
Author: Manda Bear
Manda Bear has a passion for food and wine as a very young age. She’s currently with Dep Lifestyle Magazine San Francisco Bay Area, as a co-publisher and contributor @DepLifestyleMag @DiningOutVegas @FabMediaSF. She was a contributor for Drink Me Magazine, Viet Press USA, Studio 14 Magazine, DiningOut Magazine in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She’s a certified level II Sommelier @VintageWineSR at www.VintageWineMerchants.com on Santana Row in Silicon Valley and you can find her on YouTube for her “Wine Not” Ruou Cho Nguoi Viet by Dep Lifestyle Magazine
She’s also a PR/brand ambassador for hospitality, food, and wine industry, as well as a Social Media consultant for high tech companies in Silicon Valley. She’s also a former restaurant owner and has traveled to dine at over hundred of Michelin Star/James Beard Award winning restaurants around the world.