Xanh Bistro is the perfect introduction to Vietnamese food for people who are scared of Little Saigon and its brusque holes in the wall: it serves excellent, home-style food like grilled or stewed fish, plenty of vegetables, and great small plates in a warm, well-designed environment. The service is attentive and fluently English-speaking, the menu is approachable by non-Vietnamese while still being authentic, and there's a wine list and dessert, things not common a little further north on Brookhurst Street.
Unfortunately, it's cursed by an odd location, in the inner corner of a large plaza on Brookhurst with no exterior signage. In short, you have to know it's there to go there, which is a shame.
Chef and owner Haley Nguyen is looking for alternate digs, somewhere a little further from Little Saigon. So, gentle readers--where should Xanh go? Where in OC could Nguyen spread the gospel of light, fresh food at good prices? Is it time for Newport or Laguna to finally have a Viet place worth eating at? Could downtown Santa Ana use a place to go for shaking beef and grilled orange roughy with mango salad?
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The lease on the current space expires at the end of May, so in the meantime, seek it out--go!
16161 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley; (714) 531-2030; xanhbistro.com.