Brodard – Nem Nuong Restaurant
One day my friend Michael decided to show me around Little Saigon and show me all the good eats that Vietnamese cuisine has to offer. One of these amazing morsels of food is sold at Brodard. The nem nuong spring roll which I’ve eaten when I was growing up in Los Angeles was amazing, it was light,refreshing, and had an amazing contrast of flavors and texture from sweet and salty to crunchy and chewy. Now take all that and dip it in a hot sauce that just melds all the cold vegetables and warm meat i the spring roll all together. Sadly, the restaurant that I frequented for nem nuong rolls (shrimp paste ones) closed down so I was spring roll-less for the remainder of my high school and early college career.
Until now. I have found you, nem nuong cuon.
Upon battling the terrible traffic and drivers in Westminister, we rolled up to a 99 cents store. I thought my friend was pulling a trick on me but it turns out Brodard is located in a very ghetto-ish location, it’s located in the BACK of a 99 cents stores. The entrance was very deceiving so it might be a little difficult to find. We walked into the restaurant and it was a lot nicer and cleaner than your average Vietnamese joint; in fact it was quite nice looking with a large vase in the middle with flowers and a few paintings.
We immediately sat down to order and I let Michael do all the ordering in Vietnamese, the service here sucked, but if you know how to speak Vietnamese you are probably in for some o.k. service. They basically leave you alone after they take your order and bring you your food.
The first dish to arrive was the banh xeo. It was a fried Vietnamese egg crepe which was stuffed with various vegetables (mostly bean sprouts) and strips of meat. I’ll have to admit, this stuff was pretty bland and disgusting (more on that later). It was VERY greasy and there was no salt put into it, so lots of fish sauce was necessary to give this dish some flavor. I basically doused the entire thing with fish sauce and ate it with lots of greens that they give you on the side so the freshness of the veggies could cut the grease.
The vegetable wrap which I have masterfully constructed (haha…) was a lettuce leaf crammed full of the egg crepe, cucumbers, mint, basil, cilantro, and sesame leaves. There was also this leaf shaped like a spade and it was very smooth in texture and had a light green color which tasted horrible. I don’t know what it was, but it left a aftertaste like rotten fish and it was very potent, I’ll take a picture of it if it ever comes up again.
Next came the nem nuong cuon; its’ what Brodard is famous for, and why I primarily came here in the first place. The rolls were exactly as I remembered and it was served with a side of some sort of amazing hot/sweet sauce.
The nem nuong was very tender and had a great sweet porky flavor which was very outstanding. The nem nuong was also accompanied with a fried piece of rice paper(?) which gave the spring roll some richness and crunch. There were also cucumbers and lettuce to give the roll even more crunch. Overall, a very balanced dish when paired with the sauce they serve to you on the side. What’s the sauce you say? I have no idea to this day, I assume it’s some kind of fish sauce thickened with various spices and also with some pork or chicken (can’t tell).
Last came my final dish, the Brodard special which consisted of vermicelli patties and grilled pork, beef, shrimp, fried shrimp paste, and Vietnamese sweet sausage. The whole thing was topped with slivers of fried green onions and peanuts. This dish was nothing unusual, it was pretty good all around except for the shrimp paste and sausage was rather bland and tough. I assume they were sitting in the fryer too long. Everything was also consumed by wrapping everything in lettuce leaves, various other vegetables, and then dipping into the fish sauce.
Post Dinner Trauma:
After I got home from Little Saigon, my stomach wasn’t feeling too well and my throat felt really swollen. I began thinking to myself if I’ve been poisoned or simply ate too much, but then realized I only get this way from overdosing on MSG. It was not a pleasant night, I felt like vomiting but couldn’t get myself to, the food sat in my stomach like a rock.
I’ve learned from more experiences when going to Brodard is to use the fish sauce more sparingly, I’m sure the fish sauce brought my demise with the overload on MSG. You have been warned!
I now only come here for the nem nuong rolls, it’s the only thing outstanding and worth eating at this joint.
P.S. There’s also a chile pepper that is a condiment on your table, I dare you to try a bite! I only managed to eat one.
Brodard Restaurant9892 Westminster Ave
Garden Grove, CA 92844