Pagolac: Bargain 7-Course Beef Tasting in Little Saigon [CLOSED]

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Vietnamese Restaurant Orange County

Beef arrives in waves at Pagolac, a restaurant that specializes in Bo 7 Mon.

Most people don’t get to experience a restaurant tasting menu. It’s often too expensive, sometimes up to $120 per person, without wine pairings. Many people also don’t want to spend 2-4 hours at a table, which is about how long it takes to eat the 5-9 courses at a restaurant. Heck, a lot of people don’t enjoy eating in fancy restaurants, ever. A way around all those concerns is to eat in Little Saigon, a mammoth Vietnamese community situated just south of Los Angeles. In July, I went with my friend Krystal to Nhu-Y for 8 courses of fish. This time, we returned to Little Saigon with mutual friend Adam for another single-ingredient, multi-course experience: 7 courses of beef at Pagolac.

Vietnamese Restaurant Orange County

Décor was spare, with fire red walls, tile floors, and bargain bin furniture. Near the entrance, we found a white Vespa and blue cyclo covered with Asian plants and fruits, including spiky red rambutans, pomelos and lychees.

Other dishes lined the left side of the menu, but we fixated on the right side of the menu, which was devoted to Bo 7 Mon, seven courses of beef ($12.99 per order). We split two orders.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Course #1: “Bo Nhuong Dam: fondue style – slices of tenderloin cooked on your table in a simmering vinegar broth.”

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Thin beef circles were lean and delicious, dripping with vinegar broth.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Courses #2-5 arrived on the same plate, topped with three white shrimp chips.

Course #2: “Bo Cha Dum: steamed meatballs – delicious meatballs mixed with mushrooms, peanuts and spices steamed to perfection.” I don’t know about perfection, but the mounds of meat were certainly succulent. Course #3: “Bo Nuong Mo Chai: tasty grilled ground beef sausage – seasoned with five spices and broiled to perfection on an open flame.” Less sausages than mini-meatballs, they were savory and juicy. Course #4: “Bo La Lot: Hawaiian leaf sausage – grilled and wrapped in special aromatic leaves freshly imported from Hawaii.” These herb-infused ground-beef “sausages” were great. Course #5: “Bo Sate: beef sate – prepared with a special curry sauce, pickles, ginger and wrapped in sliced tenderloin and charbroiled to perfection on an open flame.” This was my least favorite course; even though the taste was pretty good, the case-less sausages were slightly chewy, a textural struggle.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Course #6: “Bo Bit Tet: beef salad – slices of tenderloin prepared over freshly tossed green salad with a touch of house dressing.” This course was simple and delicious, thin-sliced, lean, peppered tenderloin discs over lightly dressed lettuce, topped with sweet red onions.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Course #7: Chao Bo: “Alphabet noodles and rice beef soup – sumptuous savory soup with ground beef, green onion, ginger and spices.” I don’t know what alphabet Pagolac is referring to; the pasta looked like jagged buttons to me. Still, the flavor was sensational, the broth loaded with a beefy, peppery kick.

Accompaniments included rice paper and vegetables (lettuce, cilantro, and mint) to wrap the beef, plus a special dish of fish sauce with chunks of pineapple floating in it.

Pagolac’s Thuc Uong (beverage) list featured the usual Vietnamese drinks: Vietnamese iced coffee, tea, and pickled plum soda. Adam, ever the adventurous eater, ordered a glass of “longan drink ($2),” which featured sweet pitted longan, red ginkgo nuts and cubes of yellow jello.

As with any eating outing with Krystal and Adam, our post-meal conversation turned to the inevitable, “What’s next?” Krystal and Adam were believers in multi-course, single-ingredient Vietnamese meals. If they get their wish, we’ll discover a Little Saigon restaurant that offers 7 or 8 courses of lamb. Little Saigon encompasses four towns. No doubt we’ll find what we want eventually.


Joshua Lurie

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

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