Saturday, April 25, 2009

Brodard (Garden Grove, CA)

9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844
Sat 04/25/2009, 07:25p-09:00p

If there is any dining establishment in Little Saigon that deserves to be christened iconic, Brodard would be it. The restaurant's legendary reputation was build almost solely on the back of its nem nuong cuon, or grilled pork spring rolls, and it's these rolls that customers flock to the restaurant for, time and time again. Brodard was started many years ago in South Central Vietnam (near Ninh Hoa, where nem nuong was created), not as a restaurant, but as a French bakery. The owners moved Brodard to Little Saigon eventually, where it was transformed into the mainstream Vietnamese restaurant it is today.

I've been going to Brodard for years, yet this is the first time I've blogged about it (though I have written about its higher-end sister restaurant, Brodard Chateau). After Wandering Chopsticks' Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 dinner at Binh Dan, we were all feeling a bit unsated, and decided to hit up Brodard. Joining WC and I were Aaron of Food Destination, Danny of Kung Food Panda, and Mike of Right Way to Eat.

Brodard Exterior Brodard Exterior
Brodard is situated in the Mall of Fortune. In the first photo, we see the mall's front entrance; enter here, and you'll have navigate yourself toward the rear of the structure to find Brodard. The preferred mode of entry, thus, is to go around the mall and enter through the rear (second photo).

Interestingly, this is actually Brodard's second location in Little Saigon. It was previously housed in Frank Jao's $3 million New Saigon Mall, an enclosed single-story bazaar situated at the rear of Asian Village Mall. Constructed in 1997, the mall was meant to draw in young, savvy shoppers but failed miserably; its location, set far back from Bolsa behind a 99 Ranch supermarket, didn't help either. The mall was subsequently demolished, and by 2002, new tract homes had been built on its former site. The only thing that remains of New Saigon is the Cultural Court and its lonesome white statues.

Brodard Interior Brodard Interior
The interior is comprised of one large dining room, typically brimming with energy. It's a light, fun space filled with people from all walks of life.

Brodard Menu Brodard Menu
Brodard Menu Brodard Menu Brodard Menu
Brodard Menu Brodard Menu Brodard Menu
The menu is large, but most every table will start off with at least one order of the signature nem nuong cuon. The rest of the menu can be hit-or-miss. Click for larger versions.

'33' Beer
Ah, "33" beer, otherwise known as Ba Moui Ba. Though regarded as a Vietnamese beer, "33" was actually created by the French, for use in their colonial markets. "33" is now brewed by Heineken in France and under license by BGI Tien Giang/Fosters in Vietnam. And as for the name "33," it apparently comes from the beer having been available in 330mL bottles at a time when the 650mL format was prevalent. Flavor-wise, it's typical of the style--light, subtly ricey and floral, refreshing, and quite good with Vietnamese fare.

House Special Sauce
Nem Nuong Cuon Nem Nuong Cuon
Nem Nuong Cuon [$7.50 for 5]
Pork Spring Rolls - grilled pork paste wrapped in rice paper with lettuce, cucumber, carrot, daikon and mint served with house special sauce. I've had the nem nuong cuon on every visit to Brodard, and they never fail to deliver. The marinated pork provides most of the flavor base for the roll, but it's perfectly accented by the various veggies involved, the mint especially; the end result is a sweet/savory contrast, leading to a slightly sweet finish. Texturally, the crisp cucumber, carrot, and daikon give the rolls a delightful crunch, a fantastic snap that is heightened even further with the addition of a crispy egg roll shell wrapper (a South Central Vietnamese touch). However, nem nuong cuon are as much about the roll as they are about the dipping sauce. The sauce is really an integral part of the whole experience, providing contrasting, complex flavors of sweet, sour, and savory, simultaneously. The sauce is light, yet meaty, pungent, yet delicate; it integrates, and punctuates the rolls. I'm a bit surprised that no one's been able to duplicate it yet.

Chao Tom Cuon Chao Tom Cuon
Chao Tom Cuon [$10.00 for 5]
Shrimp Spring Rolls - grilled shrimp paste wrapped in rice paper with lettuce, carrot, daikon, mint and cucumber served with house special sauce. Besides, the nem nuong cuon, I usually order the chao tom cuon as well. Basically, it's the former with the substitution of shrimp paste for pork. This results in a similar, though subtly different experience. I find that the shrimp is slightly sweeter in flavor, and also has a crunchier consistency. They're delicious, and just as satisfying.

Binh Tom Co Ngu Lime Chili Fish Sauce
Binh Tom Co Ngu [$6.95]
Shrimp and sweet potato tempura served with Asian greens and lime chili fish sauce. A Northern Vietnamese dish, the way to eat this is to break off pieces of the shrimp and potato, wrap them in lettuce and herbs, and apply fish sauce. Both major elements here, the potato and the shrimp, had sweet undertones, so the tangy sauce was an excellent complement, as was the addition of turmeric spice. Furthermore, the veggies were absolutely instrumental in balancing the weight of the dish. And though I'm not usually a fan of sweet potato fries, the preparation here was much to my liking, better than any version I've had at places such as The Counter.

Banh Khot
Banh Khot [$6.95]
Luna rice cake - seven crispy rice cakes filled with whole shrimp, mung bean and scallion flavor with a dash of turmeric powder served with Asian greens and lime chili fish sauce. A Southern specialty, these had an intensely coconut attack, one that was emphasized by the included fish sauce. It was actually too sweet for me initially. However, the sweetness was tempered significiantly when eaten with the included vegetables and tangy, crunchy pickles. Not bad.

About all I can say is that, if you're in the area and haven't experienced Brodard's nem nuong cuon, please, go ahead and give it a try; it'll be part of your foodie cred, and you probably won't be disappointed!


Blogger MyLastBite said...

Kevin, those photos of the Nem Nuong Cuon are AMAZING.

I know I've said this before... but I actually LEANED in close to get a smell.

LOL (I need coffee)

Friday, May 08, 2009 7:56:00 AM  
Blogger digkv said...

Another great post Kevin! I am loving all your food descriptions as they can even make me crave something that I eat almost all the time. I love Brodard, I think it's one of the best restaurants in Little Saigon (their mien xao cua is pretty awesome). I find the original to be much more worthwhile than their Brodard Chateau which is a bit overpriced for getting basically the same food.

Friday, May 08, 2009 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Jo: Thanks! I'd lean in closer to the sauce, as that's where most of the aroma comes from. ;)

digkv: Thanks for the tip about the mien xao cua; it sounds appealing and I'll definitely keep it in mind on my next visit! I do agree that the Chateau serves up pretty much the same food at higher prices, but I believe there are some Chateau-unique items as well.

Friday, May 08, 2009 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not loving the last few posts -- back to more well-known restaurants please

Friday, May 08, 2009 1:04:00 PM  
Blogger mattatouille said...

Anonymous: these are well known restaurants! in little saigon haha.

Kevin: nice photos of the nem nuong, for sure. I should check this place out on our next visit to the area. keep posting these cool ethnic places, don't let the commenters deter you!

Friday, May 08, 2009 1:16:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Anonymous: Next up is the Providence 5x5, so hopefully that will be more to your liking.

Matt: Touché! ;)

I guess I'll see you at Canelé?

Friday, May 08, 2009 1:48:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I love how the picture of the nem nuong on top of the notepad. It blends food and writing so well

Sunday, May 10, 2009 8:50:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks Aaron, I really liked that photo too. Unfortunately I can't say that the effect was exactly intentional.

Sunday, May 10, 2009 4:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

Went here for lunch yesterday and tried the pork spring rolls, which tasted better as I ate more of them, and the sweet potato and shrimp tempura, which I was getting tired of as I was finishing them!

Friday, May 29, 2009 9:52:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Good to hear that you were able to try this place out. You should've gotten the shrimp rolls (Chao Tom Cuon) as well though. Next time. ;)

Friday, May 29, 2009 5:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Lauren of Delicate Flavors said...

Are they the same owners as the Brodard in VN? I heard that they paid the people in VN to show them how to do the Nem Nuong Cuon.

Saturday, May 08, 2010 4:08:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Yes, Brodard started out in Vietnam, though I'm not sure if they still operate there.

Brodard was initially a bakery, so I wouldn't be too surprised if they had outside people help them with their savory foods. Can you provide more information to substantiate the claim?

Saturday, May 08, 2010 5:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Lauren @ Delicateflavors said...

I tried to recreate the Brodard sauce and I think I may have perfected it. He he.... Their sauce is too sweet for me so I made it a little more savory. I also made the charbroiled pork from scratch. I made the Nem Nuong Cuon last weekend for a friend's daughter's graduation party and the guests thought my sauce was more tasty than Brodard's. Cool! :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Lauren@delicateflavors. said...

Kevin. I used lived in OC when Brodard first opened in the back building on Bolsa. I just heard through friends in the Vietnamese community that they paid someone in Vietnam to show them how to make the Nem Nuong Cuon . It is just rumors so I have no idea if it is true or not. :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:55:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Lauren, is the Brodard sauce recipe going to be posted on your site? I've yet to have a tastier nem nuong cuon than Brodard's.

As for the rumors, I could see it being true.

Friday, May 28, 2010 1:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Lauren@delicateflavors said...

It is my secret recipe for now ...:)

Friday, May 28, 2010 7:37:00 AM  
Blogger suzn924 said...

Yup, I've been eating the nem nuong since it was behind the 99 ranch. Brodard is the best Nem Nuong place OC in Little Saigon and its pretty darn good in comparison to the one from Vietnam itself, which started in Ninh Hoa. If you like Bo Bay Mon, the one right next to the 99cent store in same Brodard plaza Hong An BO Bay mon is pretty good, especially the Bo La Lot and Bo Mo Chay. You for a side of Bun and man nem yum yum. Your posts are very detailed with great pictures :) I'm a new fan!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011 9:20:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks for the tips about bò 7 món!

I've actually had de 7 món nearby at a place called Binh Dan.

Monday, July 18, 2011 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is super late but would you be willing to give me the recipe for the sauce? My boyfriend's birthday is coming up and one of his favorite foods is the spring roll from brodards! Haha. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014 6:33:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I certainly don't have the recipe Jill, and Lauren and her site are defunct unfortunately.

Friday, February 14, 2014 3:50:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Kevin, have you tried Ha Noi Avenue for the sweet potato fries and shrimp? While at it, please also try the bun cha ha noi and cha ca thang long. I grew up with nem nuong and have to say, this place is good 😀

Monday, June 05, 2017 3:06:00 PM  

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