It’s been quite a while since social media guru Ted Nguyen organized an OC twEATup, where people converge to eat and hang out with people who they have met via social media. In the past, we have been introduced to a variety of mom and pop restaurants which may have been overlooked because of their obscure locations.
On this particular outing, we visited Rice Paper Bistro, a pretty new little place in an indescript strip mall with pleasant modern decor. This was one of the smaller twEATups I’ve attended, only nine people as opposed to 20+ in the past. I knew most of the bloggers who participated so it was like hanging out for lunch with old friends.
A few bowls of sugar coated peanuts arrive at the table for us to munch on while we perused the menu.
We each ordered something and decided to share in the bounty. Thit Nuong Cuon ($6/3pc) were summer rolls (not fried) stuffed with charbroiled pork, shrimp, vermecelli, lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber and mint. The hoisin based dipping sauce was very tasty. We loved these so much we ordered another.
Some people were creeped out by Ca Bong Trung Chien Gion ($10) whole fried smelt. Crispy and every bite consists of smelt eggs which I so love. The dipping sauce was salty and tart. The smelt were perfect on its own and even better with the sauce. I loved it.
We all loved Bo Tai Chanh ($12), medium rare beef slices topped with crushed peanuts, aromatic herbs and marinated onions. The dressing was pungent with fresh grated garlic and Thai chili peppers. SO SO good. I’m salivating as I’m writing this.
I’ve eaten Com Do Ga Roti ($8) so many times and at so many places before. Half a marinated Cornish game hen is served with red rice like everywhere else, but the hen is a little larger than elsewhere. It is also juicy and moist with one of the best shallot soy sauces I’ve ever had. Highly recommended!
I’m a huge fan of octopus so Goi Bap Chuoi va Muc ($12) was right up my alley. Shredded banana blossom and sliced octopus combine to make a mouth puckeringly delicious salad.
Tom Su Rang Me ($12) were large, whole shell-on shrimp grilled and coated with tamarind sauce. I love sucking on the head and shell which has the most flavor. Savory, piquant, just perfect.
The last item we had was Muc Nuong Moi Ot ($12) marinated charbroiled squid topped with crumbled anchovies. The squid was perfectly cooked, tender and nicely textured. The anchovies added that umami and textural contrast to the squid.
I was really pleasantly surprised by how delicious everything was. Chef/owner Le Huynh is a self taught cook and his dishes really showcase his creativity and obvious culinary talents. Dishes are unique yet stay true to the flavors and style of authentic Vietnamese fare. A hidden gem that’s for sure.
Rice Paper Bistro
10561 Bolsa Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843