Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa

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Sometimes it can be so unfair that Northern California lacks really good Asian food.  Especially Vietnamese food.  While I do have my favorite Vietnamese spots in the Bay Area, the variety of dishes are limited in Northern California, especially in Hue cuisine.

One of my favorite Hue dishes is bánh bèo.  Literally translating to mean "water fern cake", these small dishes are steamed rice cakes ( or rice pancakes) topped with shallots, dried shrimp, and a "crouton".  A spoonful of fish sauce is usually added to the rice cake and then scooped out with a spoon and slurped.  Its common to find the bánh bèo already taken out of its dish, but I prefer it served like this.  The bánh bèo is nicely steamed.  The "crouton" and the fish sauce adds a nice salty taste to the chewy rice cake.  This dish is extremely popular here and you can definitely put away a lot of these. 

I love the bun bo hue here.  It's the perfect balance of spicy and sour.  The noodles are chewy and fresh.  The cubes of pork blood and slices of pork are tender. It's possibly one of the best bowls of bun bo hue that I've had.   

A small plate of herbs, lime wedges, and bean sprouts for your bun bo hue.  I usually only add mint leaves to mine.

The signature dish here is nem nuong cuon (grilled pork spring rolls), which is noted in the restaurant name.  One of the best things about the roll-your-own spring roll here is their bánh tráng cuốn (rice paper wrappers).  They are soft, but thick enough that they don't rip.  Just dip in the hot water till pliable and then start filling up it up with your favorite ingredients.
An assortment of veggies and herbs along with beansprouts and cucumbers for adding some crunch and freshness to your rolls.
The bánh hỏi doesn't come with the dat biet (special combination),but its a nice option when making your rolls.  Bánh hỏi are thin vermicelli rice noodles that are interwoven to create thin sheets and then topped with dried shimp and green onions.  You can eat it plain or add it your rolls, which gives it a spongy texture.

The special combination comes with the nem nuong (grilled pork meatball), thin crispy eggrolls with dried shrimp, nem chua (fermented/cured pork), and nem cap (banana leaf wrapped pork).  The nem nuong here is tender and flavorful with a slightly grilled tasted.  My favorite is the crispy eggrolls, which I call "crispies". 

Rolling these things take practice.  This one isn't my doing (it's done by a pro, mine are usually sloppy looking), but it's definitely a work of art!  Check out that technique!  The trick is the inital tuck under.

Everyone is Southern California debates whether Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa is better than Brodard's.  One of the famous arguments involves whose orange sauce is better.  I haven't gotten the chance to eat at Broadard's (yet) so I can't pick a side.  The dipping sauce for the nem neuong cuon is thick and a little sweet.  Some people think the sauce here "magical", but its not Earth shattering to me.  The sweet sauce goes nicely with the fresh veggies and meat in the rolls.   
It's important to get some fresh veggies, some meat, and a crispy roll for a mixture of different tastes and textures in each bite.

Address:                       Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa
                                             9016 Mission Dr.
                                             Rosemead, CA

Type:                               Vietnamese

Popular chomps:  bun bo hue
                                             banh beo
                                             nem nuong

Chomp worthy:    bun bo hue
                                            banh beo
                                            nem nuong

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