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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Brodard Restaurant: Rolling in the Deep (Fried Goodness)

Finally tried the much-talked about rolls atBrodard Restaurant in Garden Grove and glad to say I wasn't disappointed. Evidently, there are times reality does live up to the hype. The beauty of these rolls is that they were nothing like any Vietnamese fresh rolls I had had before. I'm not sure how traditional they are, but I like them.
I think the biggest element that sets these rolls apart is the crunch factor from the inside, delivered by a wonton skin that's been neatly rolled up and deep fried to perfection, which they then surreptitiously inserted amid all the freshly cut vegetables like cucumber, lettuce (use anything but iceberg), a type of flatter green onion strand, carrots and radishes.

The fresh veggies definitely help to reduce the guilt factor. Then the protein can be either a slice of grilled pork sausage, grilled shrimp paste or tofu. Bonus points if you can guess which was my fave. Yes! Pork, of course. The shrimp one was on bland side and I wouldn't order it again.
My buddy PK and I tried to recreate these rolls and they turned out pretty well, if I may say so myself (I know, I often do...).

We deconstructed the rolls to figure out the ingredients and then snooped on the master rollers to see how they were rolling them. They made it look so easy. We didn't churn out the rolls as quickly and deftly as they did but we weren't too shabby.

They were a hit. I predict I will be making these rolls for many a dinner party or Hollywood Bowl outing in the future.

We weren't able to replicate the thick, slightly spicy sauce but that's ok. I wasn't too crazy about the sauce anyway. So we created our own, one with almond butter, garlic and soy sauce with a bit of kick from sriracha.
We also got the "Luna rice cakes," which were little omelet cups filled with shrimp, mung bean and scallions, served with a bunch of greens, pickled radish strips and a side of chili lime sauce.

The cups could have used a bit more flavor but I just had to reach out for the hot sauce on the side of the table so it wasn't a problem.
We also liked a noodle soup that had everything under the sun, including shrimp, pork slices, ground pork, quail egg, "assorted pork organs" and greens in a super flavorful pork-based broth. It was so flavorful that it made me wonder whether it had used any MSG but I'm going to say it was likely from boiling the bones for hours on end. The noodles were clear noodles that were like thicker versions of vermicelli and the soup was topped with fried onion bits.

Now for the least satisfying part. The Bo Luc Lac rice was weak. I haven't had a good version of this classic dish in a while. It is to Vietnamese cuisine what lomo saltado is to Peruvian. The quality of the meat has to be excellent since it's filet mignon. But this meat was not tender. The tomato fried rice it came with was fluffy albeit on the bland side. It reminded me of arroz con tomate you get in Mexican restaurants when you order a carne asada plate.
The taro plus coconut milk dessert was interesting. The wait is usually insane so make sure you come at an odd hour, like 5:30pm-ish on a Sunday, like we did.

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