In Vietnamese cooking, five flavors refer to bitter, salty, sour, spicy, and sweet. All of those tastes are on vivid display at Five Flavors, which opened to end 2016 in a Garden Grove strip mall on Little Saigon’s east side. Between cream and burgundy walls, surrounded by flat screen TVs and faux plants, you’ll find a lengthy menu of, wait for it, flavorful dishes.
I clearly had to order a dish that embraces all five flavors. Hu Tieu Five Flavors ($5.95) is available as a noodle soup, or dry. I opted for the latter, leading to a thick bed of rice vermicelli topped with coarse ground pork crumbles, sliced pork, sliced beef, thin-sliced Chinese celery, fried garlic, and a single quail egg. Each order comes with a sidecar of chicken broth, bean sprouts, lime, and sawtooth herb (rau ram) if you care to increase texture and bite. Add broth to loosen noodles in the bowl, and add chile sauce if you like, but the dish’s flavor is balanced.