We're reaching the halfway point of 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!
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When nem nuong cuon (grilled pork rolls) at Brodard Restaurant blew up, I couldn't have been more confused. I had grown up eating them at Westminster-based family gatherings where they'd casually sit next to aluminum trays of fried rice and banh cuon (rice paper with Vietnamese ham and fish sauce). They were never culinary centerpieces of these gatherings, ever--though I personally enjoyed them. Once I stepped out of my relatives' houses, I wouldn't see them again until the next gathering, which would be next year.
So you can imagine how weirded out I was when a non-Vietnamese hallmate asked me to make a Brodard run him (and when Sriracha, pho, and banh mi blew up--but those are stories for different time). At the moment, I wasn't used to seeing Vietnamese restaurants populated by non-Vietnamese guests--especially one located in a shopping complex as dingy and familiar to me as the Mall of Fortune. But as perplexed as I was, it was comforting to see non-Vietnamese peers appreciate a dish from the motherland, diving into nem nuong sauce (even if its contents are a mystery) and being okay with the chaotic environment that is a Vietnamese restaurant. Some of my friends have told me trying nem nuong cuon was life-changing for them but, man, they don't know how life-changing hearing that was for me.
The List: 28. Coffee Eclair at La Petite Sourie 29. Mango Tango Joe Latti at Joe's Italian Ice 30. Chicken Wasabi Yakitori at Kappo Honda 31. Carrot Cake at Alta Coffee 32. Egg Tart at 85 Degrees Cafe Bakery 33. Fried Torn Baked Potatoes at Wagyu Chuck 34. Green Onion Pancake Beef Roll at 101 Noodle Express 35. Green Tea Snow at Snow Station 36. Plato's Salad Bowl At Falasophy 37. The Benedict Omelette at Egg Cracker 38. Fig & Burrata Tart at Driftwood Kitchen 39. Lemon Steam Cake at SideDoor 40. Frog Legs at Cafe Beau Soleil 41. Banh Khoai at Huong Vy 42. Bibimbap at Morangak 43. Salade Niçoise at Bistro Papillote 44. Poke at Bear Flag Fish Company 45. Tijuana-Style Carne Asada Tacos at Tío Flaco's 46. NM Style Enchiladas at Panxa Cocina 47. Pan-Fried Crispy Noodles With Shredded Pork at Phoenix Food Boutique 48. The Happy Hour Menu at TAPS 49. Pork Cutlet Curry at Cafe Hiro 50. Piadina at Piadina 51. Consomé de Barbacoa at El Torito Nuevo 52. Black Goat Casserole at Mirak 53. Wagon Wheel at French's Cupcake Bakery 54. Molletes at Taco Maria 55. That Awesome Hot Sauce at Akropolis 56. The Hermanator at Peter's Gourmade Grill 57. Bolsa Bao at Baos Hog 58. Full Moon Roll at Full Moon Sushi 59. Fried Chicken at Plaza Inn 60. Tonkotsu Spicy Ramen at Ramen Yamadaya 61. Three-Meat Combo at Robert Earl's BBQ 62. AYCE Sushi at Sake 2 Me 63. Yaki Dog at Burntzilla 64. Fruit Sorbet at the Playground 66. Dulce de Leche Walnut Shrimp Taco at Dos Chinos 65. Buñuelo Waffle at Waffles Inc 67. Cajun Seafood Pasta at The Big Catch 68. Belgian Fries at Wursthaus 69. Scoops x Contra Ice Cream Float at Scoops Ice Cream Santa Ana 70. Buttermilk Panna Cotta at Lola Gaspar 71. Hummus at Mick's Karma Bar 72. Savory Baked Goat Cheese Bread Pudding at Eat Chow 73. Sicilian Style Pepperoni Pizza at Perry's Pizza & Italian Restaurant 74. Kabocha Honey Nuts at Kabuki 75. Smashed Potatoes at Standing O 76. Dim Sum at Seafood Cove #2 77. Loco Moco at Bread Crumb Ohana Cafe 78. Bratwurst at Barley Forge 79. Beef Noodle Soup at (Wafting Fragrance) Noodle House 80. Taco de Nopal at Urban Cactus 81. Fried Chicken at Crazy Chi-Mac 82. Mole Tots at Amor y Tacos 83. Khao Soi at S.T. Noodle Bar 84. Chili Cone Queso at Cozy Cone Motel 85. Crispy Smelt at Big Catch Seafood 86. Teriyaki Chicken Plate at California Plate 87. Combo Plate at MasalaCraft 88. Cornbread Waffle & Chicken at Mrs. Bea's 89. Everything at Crispy Town 90. Kurobuta Pork Belly Bánh Mì at Mendocino Farms 91. Tostilocos at Tortas y Biónicos "Nice" 92. Milanesa at Delicias Peruanas 93. Super Nachos at Kelly's Korner Tavern 94. Tortas at Sliced and Diced Eatery 95. Seasonal Dumplings at Coconut Rabbit 96. Burrito de Birria de Res from Burritos La Palma 97. Bò Kho at Song Long Restaurant 98. Pancake Sandwich at Willowick Golf Course 99. Tahdig at Tanor Fresh Mediterranean Grill 100. Quatro Formaggi Panini at Old Vine Cafe