When a dining event was set up as eating animals from the zoo, this was not a joke at all. In fact, I was counting on eating every exotic animal that are legally possible to be offered up in a menu.
I have never seen an extensive menu of exotic animals before until I stepped in inside of Phong Dinh, an unassuming Vietnamese restaurant on San Gabriel Blvd. I have always tried various different meat at Brazilian BBQ, but this one takes a step further and knock it out of the park with their unusual way of having these popular animals cooked to an Asian style cuisine without making some cheap Asian fusion crap.
The tough things about coming here was that the place can be very chaotic at times. It was really hard for some of us to find any staff members who can adhere to our needs. In few occasions, the hot tea were forgotten, napkins has to be requested by walking up to the counter, and it took them almost 20 minutes to take our order (although it took us 30 minutes to be situated, our fault on that).
Without a further ado, here are some of the animals we have chow down before our eyes. If you love Kangaroo Jack, you might need to stop reading this...
The Fried Catfish served here was the most mentioned and popular item on the menu. This particular dish is what makes this place very famous because there is no other place that can rival Phong Dinh for fried catfish. To some, it might be overrated, but for that night it seemed to be a favorite among my dining companions and did lived up to our expectations. I thought it went great in a spring roll condiments we were given ahead of time.
The Alligator tasted like chicken. A very good one if I say so myself. Tried the alligator without the curry sauce as it can be overwhelming. Luckily our table ordered the right one as we enjoyed a few boneless alligator meat like a Popeye chicken.
The Kangaroo tasted and looked like a traditional Vietnamese marinated beef Bo Luc Lac. With the right ingredient and sauce, it can also tasted like Korean BBQ marinated beef kalbi. I like the meat again without the curry sauce. It seemed that our two options of with or without curry have made our realization in that we don't need the curry sauce on the meat.
Next came the Ostrich, which was a dish that got served with fries. This is another meat that tasted like bo luc lac, but with a more gamer texture. I thought birds taste like chickens, but apparently not with the Ostriches. It's a little rougher with the texture and bit more harder to chew. Even though it was rough, I still enjoyed the wonderful flavor to the Ostrich.
The Squab legs was also very delicious. It tasted so much like a shumai that you would get at most dim sum places. Absolutely a fabulous little nuggets if there was ever one made. The only thing you have to worry about are the bones when you chewed these nibblets.
Even with all those hiccups with the service, we did have a great time and a fantastic feast of a meal. I don't know if was just me, but my breath smelled very weird when I got home. I think it was all those weird concoctions of meat mixing together. Ewwww...
If you do get a chance to come here, before anything else, ordered the Papaya salad. This could be a meal by itself. Very fresh, but with the shrimp on top of it made it a wonderful dish to start off before the main courses (we got this salad after all the main courses. Ha!).
Yes, order the catfish. Do get the Alligator and the Ostrich without the curry sauce and put it in a spring roll....or you can make a Cuban cigar out of it and smoke it!Phong Dinh
2643 San Gabriel Blvd
Rosemead CA 91770