Nhu-Y: 8 Courses of Fish in Fountain Valley [CLOSED]

Vietnamese Restaurant Orange County

8-course feasts are common around Little Saigon, and Nhu-Y focuses on fish.

Nhu-Y is a garish Vietnamese restaurant on Little Saigon’s southeastern edge across from Mile Square Golf Course. Nhu-Y is known for Ca 8 Mon (8 courses of fish), which they advertise on the sign. Ca 8 Mon is the reason my friend Krystal and I drove to Fountain Valley. And there was no way we weren’t going to eat it.

Décor was garish. An area near the path inside Nhu-Y featured a fake stone fountain, inextricably strewn with conch shells.

Taxidermy Orange County

Through the front door, we encountered a mounted nine-point buck head. Was this noble animal used as venison? Regardless, fish taxidermy may have been more appropriate.

Vietnamese Restaurant Orange County

Décor didn’t get better in the yellow dining room. Booths were shrouded in fake flowers and they strung flashing white Christmas lights along the plastic-flower-lined ceiling.

Luckily, the restaurant was packed with nothing but Vietnamese people, always a good sign when eating in a Vietnamese restaurant. The menu must have been 20 pages long, with whole sections devoted to such exotica as alligator steak, venison, wild boar, king snail, abalone, and the increasingly popular goat. Whole baked catfish was offered in sizes ranging from XS ($18.99) to XXL ($44.99). Each section featured a cartoon version of the corresponding animal. This is not a restaurant for vegetarians.

We ordered the Ca 8 Mon ($15.99), featuring eight preparations of sole. It was practically pre-ordained. They also offer Bo 7 Mon (seven courses of beef). Next time.

Our meal came with a plate of springy rice vermicelli, a large stack of “vegetables” like lettuce and mint for wrapping the food, and four sauces: peanut sauce crumbled with peanut, tamarind, fish, and a mysterious fourth sauce. Maybe too mysterious. As soon as I asked the waiter what the fourth sauce was, he quickly removed it from our table.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Ca 8 Mon began with two Goi Cuon Ca (fish spring rolls), rice paper wrapped around scallion, finely shredded lettuce, and a grilled fish strip. The bundle was very good dipped in peanut sauce.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

A plate of raw shredded cabbage came topped with two pieces each of Cha Gio Ca (fish egg rolls), Ca Chien Don Mam Me (fried fish strips with tamarind sauce), Ca Mo Chai (wrapped BBQ fish) and Ca La Lot (fish wrapped in Hawaiian lot leaf).

Egg rolls were crispy and light, not greasy. Fried fish strips were two-inch-long fried squiggles of sole, lightly breaded and flaky. Wrapped BBQ fish had the consistency of cigarette sized sole sausage, juicy and light. The sole forcemeat wrapped in lot leaves was equally juicy. The previous two dishes were topped with crumbled peanut and tender scallions.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Goi Ca Song (fresh fish salad) featured room temperature carrot, green and purple cabbage slaw mixed with sole chunks and crumbled peanut. Three white shrimp crackers topped the salad. Spooning sole slaw on the crispy crackers made for a terrific Vietnamese take on the taco.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Ca Vi Sot (sizzling fish on a hot plate) featured two butter-tender sole fillets topped with scallions, crumbled peanuts, and a few bean sprouts for crunch.

Chao Ca (fresh fish porridge) was the eighth and final fish dish, a bowl of silken rice with velvety chunks of sole, topped with cilantro and diced onions.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Since the menu was so interesting, we couldn’t stop at 8 courses of fish and ordered Heo Rung Xao Xa Ot, wild boar meat with lemongrass and jalapeño ($13.99). Lean, thin-sliced, crusty spiced hog sautéed with scallions and onions and topped with cilantro leaves. It was very good. The flavor and heat kept building. Which wasn’t a surprise; each dish on the menu was listed with a chile pepper next to it.

With a menu that reads like a zoo’s wist-list, there will definitely be another visit to Nhu-Y, and I’ll bring more people to try more things. We’ll almost certainly order eight courses of fish again. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we chase it with an Extra-Extra-Large catfish, seven courses of beef, stir-fried alligator, and grilled venison. The animal kingdom is a big place, and with Nhu-Y’s help, I’m willing to turn my stomach into my own personal Noah’s Ark.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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