I live in Orange County, CA. There is obviously a huge Asian population in Southern California and I'm fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing places to EAT! I don't think it's possible to go to every single place to try things out. However, you can always try.
A few days ago I finally put into action something I've been wanting to do for the longest time: try Brodard's spring rolls. Brodard is a restaurant in Garden Grove that is known for their nem nuong rolls and the dipping sauce that accompanies it. I've been hearing about it for a couple of years but never got around to it. "Hester, you must go to Brodard to have their amazing spring rolls with that sauce! Oh, the sauce! I could just have a bath in it."
Hmm, okay. Sounds pretty serious. Then, I found out that Dat Thanh in Westminster also does spring rolls. I've known about the place for about a year or so now but had never known where it had been located. Didn't know the name or location until a finally received a business card two weeks ago. That's how I found out about the spring rolls.
Okay, it's called nem nuong spring rolls. When I say spring rolls, I think of vermicelli-stuffed rolls with shrimp or different meats with some red leaf lettuce and mint, rolled up into a roll and dipped in either peanut sauce or a sweet fish sauce.
So, nem nuong spring rolls are different than what I am used to. It is specifically a roll with a slice of grilled pork, some leafy lettuce, a rolled up piece of wonton wrapper for crunch, pickled veggies (carrots and/or daikon radish), and maybe some cucumber, mint, and chives. *These are garlic chives, usually seen in Asian cooking, not the regular hollow chives one buys at the store.*
Thus, I was excited to do a head-to-head comparison between Brodard and Dat Thanh on their nem nuong rolls and sauces. Each restaurant has had much exposure by the LA Times, OC Register, OC Weekly, and many more publications. And, of course, you've got handy dandy Yelp. My good friend, Kathleen, came with me on this foodie adventure.
|First stop was to pick up some nem nuong spring rolls to-go from Brodard. By the way, if you have a hard time finding it, it's behind the 99 Cents store.|
|These ladies are assembling the rolls. The waiting took about five to eight minutes and then we were out the door. Three rolls cost $4.50 + tax.|
Then, we drove down Brookhurst St. to Dat Thanh. It was not a long drive but, if you're going to be anywhere near the area, do know that there's lots of construction going on and that can slow some things down.
|The parking lot is small so, be aware that sometimes finding parking might take a few minutes when the lot is busy.|
|Hai works in the front and his parents are making delicious food in the back.|
We went in and sat ourselves down at a table right next to the register. Hai is the man you'll meet and who will be wooing you with his charm. He likes to talk, which is good, because it makes for a friendly and fun atmosphere to eat in. We told him we wanted an order of nem nuong rolls so that we could do a comparison between his and Brodard's. And as an owner, he is proud of his parents' rolls and their cooking and preparation style. He'll proudly tell you about them and give his honest opinion about Brodard's. He also likes to tell you about the different clientele that like to drop in to have his parents' amazing food. So, try not to take it as arrogance but rather, as pride.
|Brodard's nem nuong rolls with their famous sauce.|
|The SAUCE: Dat Thanh's on the left and Brodard's on the right.|
|Dat Thanh's nem nuong rolls.|
Here's the scoop: Brodard's sauce is made with ground pork as well as a shrimp paste and MSG. Dat Thanh uses ground chicken as well as a little peanut butter and they do not use MSG.
The sauces do taste a bit different. Health kick aside, I think I personally prefer Dat Thanh's a little more than Brodard's. As for the rolls, Dat Thanh wins hands down because they're way fresher and I like that there are more veggies in it. There was a wonderful crunch from all the vegetables and the meat was nice and hot (they make their own sausage in house). I'm a veggie freak and I like them fresh and abundant. Hai's mother wrapped these rolls perfectly and they tasted like they were made with love and care. I cannot say the same for Brodard. The girls at Brodard (as you can see) just make rolls and rolls galore and when they're needed, a person will just place the amount ordered onto a plate or styrofoam to-go plate and there you go.
So, there you go. That's my honest assessment about the two places. That said, I'm not a big nem nuong person! I think I'll look forward to going back and eating the broken rice and vermicelli dishes. Mmm mmm mmm. If you're in the area, go do your own taste test :-) Happy eating!
PS--Dat Thanh's iced coffee is ridiculously good ;-) Oh, and they're also CASH ONLY.
9892 Westminster Ave., Ste. R
Garden Grove, CA 92844
10032 McFadden Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683