Golden Deli, San Gabriel
April 18, 2012 Leave a comment
After almost four years of living in Los Angeles, one gets used to planning forty-minute drives to the other side of town for awesome pizza or some crazy food truck. This time, our destination was a family-style, couldn’t-find-it-unless-you-were-looking-for-it establishment that served incredible Vietnamese cuisine. Back home in San Diego, I had a standard rotation of my favorite Vietnamese places, but in L.A., a decent Pho Citi partially addressed, but did not fully satiate a periodic hunger for delicious Vietnamese food.
Golden Deli Restaurant is in the San Gabriel Valley, which necessitates braving I-10, plenty of traffic lights on long stretches of local roads, and crowds of hungry, mostly patient SGV insiders that know all the neighborhood gems. Once you’re about to be seated however, the wafting aromas of steaming soup and barbecued meat dissipates any transport-related frustrations, succumbing to a suddenly very apparent craving in your core that simply wants something, anything, from their menu.
One item that I recommend is their deep-fried shrimp paste, or phán chao tôm. Topped with scallions and crunchy peanuts and supported by two planks of sugar cane, every bite is delicious. To eat, you use the knife they provide to separate the shrimp from the sugar cane. Cut the shrimp into portioned strips, which you will put onto a sheet of tissue-thin rice paper. After loading lettuce, carrots, daikon, bean sprouts, basil, mint, and whatever else looks good to you, wrap it all up, burrito-style and dip in peanut sauce (what you’re supposed to do, I believe) or fish sauce (what I like to do). If you like things on the spicy side, definitely use the chili sauce in the condiment area of your table. (I don’t think sriracha works with this, but you may enjoy that too…)
I highly advise you not to skip the vegetables. They balance out the shrimp and every Vietnamese restaurant I’ve been to has the freshest, crunchiest, and most fragrant plates of raw vegetables.
Egg rolls! I highly recommend the egg rolls in pretty much every Vietnamese establishment, even though I usually avoid them at Chinese restaurants. At Golden Deli, they are freshly fried, not too salty, and have balanced vegetable fillings. Wrap the egg rolls in some cool romaine and everything melds in your mouth.
This particular time, I got bún, which is vermicelli. This particular iteration has amazing pork meatballs and shredded pork skin. I love bún because the salad at the bottom paired with the bouncy white noodles highlights whatever topping you choose to get. The meatballs at Golden Deli are slightly sweet and very meaty , which worked well with the delicate vermicelli. And who doesn’t like scallions?
Stephen ordered pho with beef. Though he likes Pho Citi quite a bit, for me, the pho at Golden Deli is several tiers more superior. The broth has a clarity and savoriness that envelops the thin noodles and permeates the beef. I love adding the extra vegetables to the noodle soup, whereas Stephen prefers to add lime and jalapeños. Mmm… my stomach is clenching as I think about eating at Golden Deli again.
Like most of the best places in the San Gabriel Valley, the prices are very reasonable and though the service is not amazing, the food is, which is the most important part. Golden Deli has since become a sort of Shangri-Là for my Vietnamese-craving self in Westwood. Definitely worth the drive.
815 West Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
626 308 0803