I have bookmarked Garlic & Chives for quite some time, and have been hankering for a visit. So when family members are in town several weeks ago, I thought it was the perfect excuse to give this place a try. Since that night, I’ve made another trip back to try a few more dishes, and re-visit some we had the first time.
Gỏi Cuốn Ca Salmon ($4) are Salmon Belly Rolls with a tamarind dipping sauce. Salmon belly is mostly crispy salmon skin wrapped in rice paper, along with fresh, mint, cucumber and vermicelli. The combination of varying flavors and textures are the crux to what makes this roll, one of the best I’ve ever eaten. They are so good my nieces want another order.
One of my favorite Vietnamese salads is Gỏi Ngó Sen ($11) or Lotus Root Salad. Shards of young lotus root, carrots, cucumber, celery, poached pork, and shrimp, are tossed with crispy onions, and crushed peanuts to create a cornucopia of crunch on the palate.
When Thịt Cừu Xiên Que ($10) hits the table, each person takes one and passes it along. Soon, the dish is asked to be passed down the other end again. These Spicy Garlic Toothpick Lamb pieces are beautifully marinated in house seasonings and fried to perfection. They are moist and packed with flavor. Definitely a favorite of the table.
I am not sure if my grandnieces are open to eating sea snails, so I order Rau Muống Xào Ốc Hương ($10) so that the sea snails are small slices sautéed with ong choy or water spinach. I love water spinach and I’m watching everyone eat the vegetables without any questions. It is absolutely delicious, and I would order this again. I am looking forward to ordering whole sea snails on my next visit.
The next dish of Tôm Xiên Nướng ($12) or grilled large skewered shrimp are very fresh, possessing a good char. My complaint with this dish is that there is nothing that makes it stand out like the other dishes. It is just grilled shrimp. They are also a tad overcooked, but otherwise, just okay.
My son will never leave a Vietnamese meal without ordering Bò Lúc Lắc ($12) or Shaking Beef. Tender pieces of filet mignon are seared and tossed with onions and bell peppers, perfect with piping hot steamed rice.
One of my favorite Vietnamese dishes — Bun Chả Cá Thăng Long ($12) or dill fish – is the only item I do not enjoy. The fish is overcooked and the accompanying fermented shrimp sauce isn’t pungent enough for me.
Make sure you arrive between the lunch and dinner rushes, otherwise, you’ll be waiting a very long time for a table.