The past two years have been a challenging time for even established restaurants to keep afloat. Undaunted, recent college graduate Vivian Yenson opened her first Tây Hố takeout location in January of this year, adapting her restaurant model to the mid-pandemic climate she was opening it in. Tây Hố is a family business started by Yenson’s grandparents when they opened their first Tây Hố restaurant in Westminster in 1983, and it has since expanded into food manufacturing of classic Vietnamese staples and ingredients. Yenson decided to branch her family’s business out west, opening Tây Hố San Gabriel in the classic 626 area earlier this year. She focused on creating a business model built to withstand the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic that she also hoped would become an accessible mainstay in people’s takeout routines. Read more about Yenson and Tây Hố’s restaurants—which are named after the West Lake district of Hanoi—here!
With that in mind, Tây Hố’s food has to withstand the commute of taking your mouth-watering meal home from their restaurants. Given that this food is prepared with the expectation that you will have to take it out, I want to consider two factors: how it tasted when it got back, and how it withstands being leftovers (You also order takeout to have leftovers for another day, right? It can’t just be me…). Here are the dishes I ordered for myself and my spouse, how they withstood the commute back, and their reheat-ability:
First off, the tea can completely be excluded from these factors: it’s tea. Iced, bright, perfectly sweet and refreshing—perfection! We both got Thai tea because we love it, and I’m sorry to any coffee lovers for not trying out the Vietnamese coffee. Next time, I promise!
Let’s crack on to the appetizers:
The chicken wings were perfectly cooked and still slightly crunchy (they were the last dish to be added to my bag, so that timing likely aided longevity). The fantastic sauce was more of an oil, with just the right balance of tang, umami from what tasted like fish sauce, and a tiny bit of sweetness. The wings were topped with some mildly spicy chopped chili peppers and fresh peanuts. The even better news: even after reheating, the chicken stayed decently juicy. Both fresh and reheated, these wings were a tasty win! Definitely have to order these again.
Next, we ordered the shrimp rolls, which came with a generous portion of dipping sauce. Juicy shrimp, rice noodles, Thai basil, green onion, and cucumber, wrapped in a thin, transparent rice wrapper. This is a fresh, herbaceous, starter, balanced well by the rich, hoisin-esque dipping sauce. After refrigerating, as you might guess, the wrapper gets tougher; eat immediately if possible!
For our main courses, we went with the Tây Hố fried rice, steak garlic noodles, and of course, Tây Hố’s signature bánh cuốn.
The fried rice included three different meats—sweet and savory traditional Chinese sausage, succulent shrimp, and Vietnamese ham—a classic fried rice upgraded with a sumptuous trio of meats, topped with a fried egg. I can’t tell you how it tastes reheated because we ate it all in one sitting; it was just that addictive! However, I’m quite sure it would reheat fairly well.
The steak garlic noodles featured remarkably tender, savory steak on top of garlic egg noodles, coming together in an incredibly comforting dish. It’s a deceptively simple combination—both main components need to be excellent, otherwise, there isn’t much else to distract from any subpar quality of either. The steak was cooked to perfection, and the garlic noodles were bouncy and flavorful. And, they still tasted fantastic when reheated the next day: the steak remained tender, and the noodles remained chewy and a bit bouncy, though obviously they lost some bounce overnight.
Last, but never least: Tây Hố’s signature bánh cuốn. The box came compartmentalized into sections housing the specialty rice crepes, some of which were filled with a mixture of tender wood ear mushroom and ground pork; Vietnamese ham arrayed atop the crepes; a combination of bean sprouts, thinly sliced cucumber, Thai basil, and cilantro; a specific little nook for their fried onions; and a big corner dedicated to the shrimp and sweet potato fritter. Of course, the box also came with a generous container of their housemade dipping sauce.
I would probably recommend that you prioritize eating your bánh cuốn first if you decide to order it—don’t let it get cold! Not all of our wrappers were filled with the distinctive, earthy mixture of wood ear mushrooms and ground pork, which was a bit of a shame, as I was quite a fan. In our box, we received slightly more wrappers than there were slices of Vietnamese pork, as well. It’s a fun, lighter, do-it-yourself kind of meal, filling your crepes to your personal preferences and satisfaction. The dipping sauce added some sweet and sour notes to the bright and savory flavors of the fillings, and only a hint of heat; nothing completely overpowered each bite (unless you didn’t spread out your Thai basil…definitely not something I’m saying from experience…).
We made the mistake of not eating most of our shrimp and sweet potato fritter on the first day because we were too full. As a result, we learned that it definitely needs to be eaten as fresh as possible, too, as it became tough upon reheating.
I want to clarify, though: some things aren’t going to be that good reheated, and aren’t meant to be—nobody is going to refrigerate hard shell tacos and expect them to be just as good the next day, or think that a steak or burger will taste the same reheated as on the original day. I thought it would be an interesting and practical observation to include the reheat-ability factor, especially since it’s takeout food, and also because we couldn’t eat everything all in one day. This way, you can know what things to prioritize on day one, and what things are safe to keep for tomorrow.
This entire enormous meal—which included two appetizers, three main courses, and two drinks—came out to be $67 pre-tax. Before tip, that’s about $75 for an amount of food that would feed three to four people, or provide two people with a sizable lunch the next day. To me, this makes Tây Hố’s meals a competitively-priced, delicious, and healthier takeout option for families and young professionals alike! Peruse the menu here, and find the Tây Hố San Gabriel and Tây Hố Chino Hills locations below:
Tây Hố San Gabriel:
529 E. Valley Blvd., Suite 118B, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Open: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Tây Hố Chino Hills:
3410 Grand Ave., Suite C, Chino Hills, CA 91709
Open: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.