Restaurant: Garlic & Chives
Location: 9892 Westminster Blvd #311, Garden Grove, CA 92844. (714) 591-5196
Date: June 23 & September 13, 2018
Rating: Old School Vietnamese
Fred and Andrew T convinced me to head down on a Saturday afternoon to Garden Grove for some serious Vietnamese. Now, despite the horrific traffic, they didn’t have to twist my arm too hard because I love Vietnamese food, as evidenced by my eating around that lovely country.
After a “snack” (aka full lunch) at Tai Buu we secured our late afternoon reservation at the insanely popular Garlic & Chives — apparently by Kristin!
Inside is cute and more modern.
Interest ice tea with an exotic flavor.
Wines we just popped and jammed on.
1998 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. BH 94. An elegant but austere wine that is almost as reticent as the ’96 with pure citrus and floral aromas that continue onto the crisp and still very tight medium-bodied flavors that are beautifully precise and impressively delineated on the gorgeously long finish. This is a long way from being ready and I wouldn’t touch a bottle for another 5 to 7 years.
From my cellar: 2006 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Rosé Brut. VM 95. Taittinger’s 2006 Comtes de Champagne Rosé has come along nicely over the last six months. Intensely perfumed, Pinot-inflected aromatics carry through the mid-palate and finish as the 2006 shows off its depth and pure energy. Veins of chalky minerality give the red berry and cranberry flavors an extra kick of energy. The 2006 is both powerful and delicate at the same, with crystalline precision and fabulous depth. Hints of orange peel, mint, cinnamon and cranberry add further shades of nuance on the complete, beautifully articulated finish.
2014 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons. VM 93. Very pale yellow. Lemon oil, flowers and a lightly lactic yeasty nuance on the nose. Tight, upright and penetrating, with brisk lemony acidity intensifying the dense flavors of white peach and almond flower. Shows terrific grain and palate presence and finishes with explosive mounting length. A very serious Vaillons. Dauvissat noted that as these vines have aged, they are yielding consistently more mineral wines.
Omg, more babykill! 2013 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Corton-Charlemagne. BH 92-94. A shy, indeed almost mute nose only grudgingly liberates its cool aromas of green apple, white fruit, spiced pear and wet stone. The intensely saline and stony big-bodied flavors are supported by a firm spine of citrus-inflected acidity that shapes the powerful finish that delivers outstanding complexity and persistence. I very much like the balance and this will need plenty of time to realize its full, and considerable, potential.
And if we thought 2013 white was young! 2015 Domaine Arlaud Charmes-Chambertin. BH 92-94. Reduction. The supple, round and strikingly refined, indeed even silky flavors possess focused power and punch while offering outstanding length on the dusty, palate coating and mildly austere finale. This is an exercise in harmony and refinement.
A REAL Vietnamese menu (gigantic).
Lime Beef Tenderloin Salad (9/13/18). Beef tenderloin marinated in lime juice, mint, onion, chili and peanuts.
Raw Ahi Tuna Spring Rolls (9/13/18). Raw ahi tuna, fresh lettuce, avocado, pickled daikon and carrots, crispy wonton wrapper rolled up in rice paper. Served with house special soy sauce and wasabi. These were a bit different, sort of Vietnamese / Japanese. Good though.
Stir Friend Ong Choy with Sea Snails. Yes, this is a garickly green with SNAILS. It was delicious too.
Beef Salad. Slices of beef, papaya, and all sorts of tangy, sweet, spicy Vietnamese salad goodness.
Coconut Sea Snails. Special Vietnamese Sea Snails cooked in coconut curry sauce. I LOVED this dish. I’ve had a pink version before at Phong Dinh and this green version was slightly different, spicier, and just as good. The snails are in little conical shells inside the curry. You suck out the creatures. So good. I could eat two bowls myself!
Rice for the snails.
Baked Clams with Garlic & Chives. Or maybe Chili Garlic. Nice actually. Lots of flavor.
Razor Clams. Baked Razor Clams topped with peanuts, chili, garlic, and bell peppers. These were dry and overcooked and our least favorite dish.
House Special Lobster. Sautéed in house special sauce with garlic, onion, jalapeños, on a bed of noodles. This was AWESOME. Tons and tons of flavor, particularly over the noodles. Way better than the Crustacean and probably 1/4 of the price.
Zoom on the lobster (from 9/13/18). So much garlic!
Spicy Crab in Tamarind Sauce. Sort of close to Singapore Chili Crab, and certainly tangy and spicy, but a bit different. Great too. Really great with a ton of flavor. The sauce was absolutely amazing. Hard to get into the shells but a lot of the meat was out. I would still love to find some exact Singapore Chili Crab, but this variant was fabulous.
Vietnamese breads, including the fried donut-like thing which was heavy and delicious.
Grilled Turmeric Fish with Dill served on the skillet w/ vermicelli.
Vermicelli noodles and herbs served with turmeric fish. You wrap these up with the fish. Delicious and very much like we had a couple of times in Vietnam.
Grilled Chili Lemongrass Pork Ribs (9/13/18). Crispy rice with pork ribs marinated in chili and lemongrass.
Spicy Garlic Toothpick Lamb. Small pieces of lamb marinated in garlic and house seasonings deep fried. Basically the Szechuan dish, but with a few more aromatics.
Made by me, of course: Almond Boba Tea Gelato — Oolong tea steeped milk, Romano Almonds from Noto Sicily, and topped with Boba! Suffered slightly from the long transit and wait, but still good.
This was an awesome afternoon and crazy crazy good food here at Garlic & Chives. I like this bright flavor forward style of Vietnamese (with a bit of Chinese, Singapore, and Thai influences). Just tons of… well garlic, chili, and chives. Closest in some ways to some of the really good places I went in Vietnam too. More fusion yes, but really good. Apparently they always have a huge line. Sigh. And a huge drive. But I’ll be back for sure for more good stuff and more Champagne. This is really Champagne food.