Roasted Catfish at #1 Restaurant in Westminster

Roasted Catfish at #1 Restaurant in Westminster
Michelle Woo

One Vietnamese dish that incites more whoas than a Thanksgiving turkey is ca nuong, roasted catfish. And one place that gets it right is #1 Restaurant in Westminster. (Yes, let it be known, #1 Restaurant wins the award for the most un-Googlable establishment of all time.)

Served on a massive platter, the golden-brown showstopper can be attacked by at least eight pairs of chopsticks at a time, all plucking the crispy-on-the-outside, moist-on-the-inside meat off the bone. Alongside the main event are all the necessary fixings for DIY spring rolls: rice paper, vermicelli noodles, lettuce, pickled carrots and radish, cucumbers, slices of green banana, and an array of herbs (mint, perilla, basil).

Roasted Catfish at #1 Restaurant in Westminster
Michelle Woo

For this dish, the true test is not the meat, as flavorful as it is having been marinated for several hours, nor is it the veggies, as vibrant and fresh as they are. It is the dipping sauces: nuoc cham (a fish sauce flavored with lime juice, garlic and chilies) and mam nem (a more pungent sauce made of shrimp paste, chili, garlic, sugar and lime). Here, both are addicting, fusing spicy, sour and sweet with ease. 

In the end, all that was left were bones. 

The fish takes a while to prepare and can be called in ahead of time.

#1 Restaurant, 9066 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 379-3850.

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