This may become our new favorite Vietnamese restaurant in San Jose.
Thien Long: Bun Cha Ca La Vong
Thao An is on our list of Top 5 Favorite Places to Eat in the South Bay because it's 1) good, 2) cheap and 3) close to our house. The other day, we wanted to take Mum to lunch at Thao An. But when we got there, the door was locked and there was a sign posted:
CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS. WE WILL POST LATER WHEN WE WILL REOPEN.
Renovations!? What about your loyal customers!? Stymied, we drove a couple blocks further to the new Paloma Mall at Lexan Ave. and Silver Creek Rd. to our backup, Thien Long Restaurant.
Thien Long Storefront
We've eaten here several times before, when we're looking for something different. We like their bun bo hue, their fish jook, and their Vietnamese Shaking Beef. This is a large platter with a heaping mound of tomato rice with an even larger pile of stir-fried chunks of filet mignon with bell peppers, onions and mushrooms atop a bed of lettuce.
Thien Long: Vietnamese Shaking Beef
Everytime we go in, we always see people ordering either the shaking beef or this dish, the Bun Cha Ca La Vong. The previous times we've come here, we didn't want to order this dish because it was so expensive - $20.95 (NOTE: this restaurant is CASH ONLY). The dish is actually meant for a family to share but since we always got other dishes, we never had chance to try it out.
Thien Long: Bun Cha Ca La Vong
Cha Ca La Vong is a famous restaurant in Hanoi that serves only one thing: grilled turmeric fish on dill. They've been doing it successfully for over 100 years now. Thien Long's version is a nod to that dish.
I believe the boneless white fish fillets being used are basa / catfish. The fish is dusted with turmeric and laid on a bed of dill. The dish arrives at your table sizzling on a metal plate atop a charcoal brazier. It is served with a platter of bun (rice vermicelli noodles), lettuce, various fresh herbs, slices of cucumber, and a bowl of dipping sauce.
Thien Long: Bun, Fish Sauce, Herbs, Cucumber
You're supposed to take some of the lettuce, a little of the bun, add a piece or two of fish, and top it with the herbs. Roll it all up (if you can), dip, and stuff in your maw. I'm not so expert at it, but it doesn't matter as long as you aren't dropping food all over the table ;-)
Their beef pho is good, but not (IMO) as good as Beef Noodle #1, just a block away on Capitol Expressway. For pho, it's all about the broth and I find Thien Long's pho broth to be behind Beef Noodle #1 in "oomph".
Thien Long: Beef Pho
Thien Long is slightly more expensive than Thao An. But it's still good food, and still close to our house. While Thao An is closed for renovations, we will be getting much of our Vietnamese food fix here at Thien Long.
Where is your favorite Vietnamese restaurant? Leave a comment and share!
Thien Long Restaurant
3005 Silver Creek Rd, #138
San Jose, CA 95121
(The restaurant is actually on the Lexann Avenue side of the mall, closer to Target and right across from the Tapioca Express.)