Sometimes, when you're young and find yourself in Little Saigon, you don't want to go to a crawfish joint, a shaved ice spot, to Afters or any of the other hotspots second-generation Viets opened in the past five years. Sometimes, you just want to hang with the elders and do it old-school. Sometimes, you just want a bowl of bò kho at Song Long Restaurant.
This legendary spot is now in its fourth decade of serving French-Vietnamese dishes, among the first in the county to do so. And while the steaks are epic, the pork chops downright Gallic, and the baguettes always wonderful, it's their bò kho that so many turn to. It remains one of Little Saigon's most criminally underappreciated meals, probably because it's so unassuming. The beef stew doesn't have the electricity of bún bò Hue, the notoriety of bún rieu, or the ubiquity of pho; its mixture of beef, carrots, cinnamon and a slice of bread on the side is so downhome that they could've served it in Iowa during the Great Depression. But Song Long's take is the homiest, like the Vietnamese grandma you never had. Visit this place before it's gone, though, because sometimes what we take for granted turns into the umpteenth Kickin' Crab ripoff.
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Song Long Restaurant, 9361 Bolsa Ave., #108, Westminster, (714) 775-3724