Everyone’s favorite Vietnamese Restaurant may have just become my own as well…in San Gabriel.
Wow. The first thing everyone mentions about Golden Deli are the lines. You want their food, you gotta stand in line. Everywhere you go, in both locations (the other being in Temple City) that’s all the foodie blogosphere talks about; the lines…the lines…the lines.
Well, if you’re hungry (like me), the idea of a line isn’t always a good thing. Yeah, sure, lines can be a good thing. They are the promise of something good, but sometimes…you just want to eat. What good is a line going to do if your stomach is rumbling?
Okay, so…maybe we approach Golden Deli with clearer intent. Maybe we step up to it when its just Lunchtime, and see what’s the haps. Maybe we go there when we’re not so desperate.
Not a good idea either, because when I bit into that Banh Mi, like with Sapp Coffee House, I suddenly wanted to know if they would let me live there, in exchange for a less important body part (say, my right arm).
So yeah, let’s talk about the lines. As you saunter up to the door, you will see that Golden Deli is already crowded.
It’s all part of the plan, just accept it and get in there.
When you walk in, one of the ladies who runs the establishment will ask how many are in your party, and then give you a ticket with a number. That’s when you help yourself to one of the shaded chairs out front and start going through the menu.
Well, in my case, they forgot to give me a menu until later, so I relied on my handy iPad and made a plan.
After a few minutes, one of the ladies came outside to take our orders, and hand out menus. She was pleasantly surprised that I had done my due diligence without a paper menu, and took my order. Thus, when my number was called (I think I waited all of ten minutes that day), I took my seat, and food just started magically arriving.
Oh, man that Banh Mi….
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Of course, I got the Banh Mi Thit Cha Lua (Number 47), which is a Banh Mi with BBQ Pork and Sliced Pork Loaf. I love Banh Mi anyway, but this one may be my favorite in town, yes, even more so than the uber cheap varieties I’ve gotten at Banh Mi My Tho, and Ba Le. Love ‘em all, and I sure as hell love their prices, but this one…this one…
It was the bread. The Baugette they used for this sandwich was head and shoulders better than anything I’ve ever had before. Seriously, if I could have gotten a couple of them just to take home with me, I’d have been fine. The Pork and the…well Pork was fantastic, and backed by a simple dollop of mayo. Perfect.
Along with that, I got a the Phan Cha Gio (Number 57) as an appetizer. I’m a sucker for both Pork and Fried Egg Rolls containing Pork, and these were just gorgeous. I actually liked the handcrafted, fried well in oil, bubbles popping on the surface Egg Rolls. Where I totally failed at, was the Pho like assortment of veggies that came along with them. I had no idea what to do with them.
Literally, I’m looking at them and saying to myself “Uhhh, you guys know I didn’t order the Pho, right?”
Anyway, the attractive lady (dining with her Father) taught me what to do. As she ate the very same plate of Egg Rolls I had, she wrapped the long, green lettuce leaves around the Egg Rolls and chomped down. Again, you had a blend of cool and hot. Crunchy Egg Roll and crisp lettuce. The blends were a good idea.
And of course, I only had one half of a Egg Roll left to try it. I was just too into eating and enjoying them. My bad.
I also rocked a Fresh Lemonade Soda (Number D13). Almost good enough to be dessert.
And of course, the day after I get back from having my first lunch at Golden Deli, and having said Banh Mi, what do I get? A list of the best Pho places in L.A., and what’s at the top of the list? Golden Deli.
Sigh. Guess I’m going back. There’s no way I can’t try the best Pho place in L.A.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Remember, the lines. They are going to be there. Accept them and get fed. Just follow the procedure described earlier in the article. Get your number. Get your menu and get started. This place has a bit of the ruthless Shanghaiese efficiency thing going for it like a certain other place I know and love. Get you in. Get you fed. Get you out.
But trust me, they love you all the same.
Also, despite the number of Thai/Chinese/Taiwanese places I’ve been too recently with really good food…this is not a cash only spot. They do take Credit Cards.
And to think I went to the ATM just in case.
PARKING: Fair, but I can imagine it being a nightmare. Like a lot of L.A.’s greatness, Golden Deli sits in the middle of a local San Gabriel Strip Mall. Parking is decently plentiful and free. Granted, Golden Deli is probably the most popular thing there, but it’s not like the other places aren’t generating business. So this is one of this one of those lots where, while there being a goodly number of spaces, a lot of them will feel perpetually filled. And I don’t want ot imagine what it’ll be like on the weekends.
Golden Deli (San Gabriel)
815 W. Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 308-0803
Monday-Tuesday, Thursday: 9:30 am – 9 pm
Friday: 9:30 am – 10 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 10 pm
Sunday: 9 am – 9:30 pm