Thanh My: Vietnamese Landmark Stays Vital in Little Saigon

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Restaurant Sign Orange County

Thanh My's sign has been a welcome sight in Little Saigon for decades.

This Bolsa Mini Mall landmark was one of the first Little Saigon restaurants, the name derived by combining the first names of the owner and his wife. According to the manager, Thanh My has served as a proving ground for Vietnamese chefs. “Six or seven” people have learned how to cook in Thanh My’s kitchen, only to bolt and start their own Little Saigon restaurants. Despite the talent drain, and the 29-year run (an eternity for a restaurant), Thanh My has still managed to remain vital.

Since Thanh My has a first ready, first served policy, we began our meal with Che Ba Mau ($2), a sweet “3 color” drink with layers of red bean, yellow mung bean and coconut milk. The colorful striations were accented with green strands of mint gelatin. The “drink” would have worked better as dessert, but it would have tasted good at any point.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Thanh My produced above average Cha Gio ($6.95), crispy imperial rolls with flash-fried skins shiny from oil. The rolls were filled with mushrooms, pork, carrots and glass noodles.

Egg rolls came with a plate of lettuce and herbs like mint, basil and rau ram. We wrapped the rolls, herbs and rice vermicelli in lettuce and dipped them in fish sauce. The cool lettuce played well against the hot rolls.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Years ago, I ate Thanh My’s venison curry, and never forgot the experience. Years later, Nai Xao Lan hoac Nai Nuong ($14.95) was still outstanding, featuring thin, lean grilled venison strips cooked with rice vermicelli and black wood ear mushrooms in a sauce of curry, onion and coconut milk. The addictive dish was topped with peanuts, mint leaves and whole red chilies. We were given a warm baguette, which we tore and slathered with curry, venison and veggies.

To round out our meal, we wanted to order BBQ veal with ginger sauce, but the manager called it a “Bad dish,” saying he’d only eat it with beer handy. Not a good sign. Instead, we ordered Thanh My’s special fried rice in clay pot.

Vietnamese Food Orange County

Com Tay Cam ($7.50) featured rice flecked with BBQ pork and topped with red-stained rice vermicelli mixed with more pork, overcooked shrimp and hard-boiled quail eggs. The dish was flavorful but a little dried out.

With the check, we each received a bowl of warm mung bean pudding, strewn with pearl-like tapioca balls and featuring strands of what may or may not have been ginger.

While it’s possible to find equally good versions of the other dishes around Little Saigon, the venison curry alone was enough to convince me that Thanh My is still relevant.

Thanh My: Vietnamese Landmark Stays Vital in Little Saigon


Joshua Lurie

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

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