Behold our annual 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!
There's one reason--no, scratch that--there are ten reasons to go to Thuan Kieu Noodle & Grill in Irvine. And they're all on the same plate. Yes, Thuan Kieu Noodle & Grill's house speciality is a rice plate with 10 meat and proteins. When you order it, it's best to have at least one other person present--either to witness your gluttony or to share in it. You should also take pictures, because the plate doesn't look much like a plate; it's more like a party tray you bring to a potluck.
They start with a dome of steamed broken rice in the middle, then start piling on all kinds of protein from just about every edible animal that once mooed, oinked, clucked, or swam. Basically, it's loaded with just about everything the kitchen cooks. Grilled pork, fish, a wedge of steamed egg quiche, egg rolls, grilled chicken, tofu-wrapped shrimp cake, glistening Chinese sausages, bouncy Vietnamese sausage (nem nuoung), grilled beef short ribs, and grilled shrimp. All are excellent by themselves, but even better together in this crowded ensemble, bound by rice and doused with nuoc cham. But there's one more item on the plate: a veritable salad consisting of a wad of pickled carrot and daikon, lettuce and cucumber to cleanse your palate in between spoonfuls meat, which officially makes this the Spinal Tap of com tam dishes. Yes, these plates go to eleven.
Thuan Kieu Noodle & Grill, 3951 Irvine Blvd., Irvine, CA 92602, (714) 389-4800; tknoodlegrill.com
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