This is Vietnamese for baked eggplants with garlic sauce, which is No.169 on the almost endless menu of Bo De Tinh Tam Chay, a Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant in Little Saigon (above).
What's in the sauce? Waiters didn't seem to know but mentioned chiles, although the sauce wasn't spicy; garlic, of course; ginger, sugar, vinegar and fish sauce. The eggplants are baked, not fried.
No. 88, pho ap chao don, or crisp flat rice noodles with mixed vegetables (above), also has a notable sauce, served on the side, not on the noodles. It's so simple, just Sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce and lemongrass, and so good, that I went hunting for both sauces in a nearby supermarket. The noodles are in the pho section of the menu, but they're dry, not in broth.
Here's a vegetarian version of the crisp stuffed crepe bang xeo, which comes with a heap of fresh herbs and fish-less fish sauce that is as intense and salty as the real thing. It's No. 10, under appetizers.
Bo De Tinh Tam Chay caters to all vegetarian needs. I went with vegans, and their restrictions did not get in the way of having delicious food.The menu offers the option of eliminating onion and garlic, which some of the observant avoid, like the Buddhist nun we talked with in the Westminster Super Store
Located in the same strip of businesses as the restaurant, this huge store is an excellent place to shop for Asian groceries you can't get elsewhere. It's the only place so far that I've been able to find fish sauce made in Vietnam. And a Vietnamese brand of Sriracha sauce was on special at two for the price of one. The photo above, by Yakir Levy, shows me examining the Sriracha bottles and gives some idea of how vast this market is.
Bo De Tinh Tam Chay, 15352 Beach Blvd., Westminster, CA 92683. (714) 891-4455, open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Westminster Super Store, 15440 Beach Blvd #123, Westminster, CA 92683. Tel: (714) 891-6288.