Tra House, Orange County, CA: “Twisted Vietnamese Cuisine”
Located in Orange County, About 30 miles South of Los Angeles and less than 5 miles from Disneyland, is Tra House, a Vietnamese fusion restaurant whose name translates to tea house.
I like to make it point whenever I am visiting a new city to ask the locals for recommendations. Southern California has a large Vietnamese population and the Garden Grove area where Tra House is located if fondly referred to as Little Saigon. It so happened that our host was actually from Vietnam, so we asked him to recommend a Vietnamese restaurant, and that’s how a party of four ended up at Tra house for lunch on a work day.
Tra house is located on a strip Mall, but don’t let the exterior fool you. As soon as you make your way through the door you are greeted by artistic elements hanging from the ceiling such as a bicycle while the side walls are graced with exposed copper pipes used for lighting. We were quickly seated by a friendly waiter, he was very efficient which showed how respectful he was of the fact that we had limited time to enjoy our lunch before heading out to finish our work day; at the the same time he was patient enough to guide us through the extensive menu. Between the waiter and our host; we quickly came up with a selection of dishes to share. The selection made a very good representation which speaks to the Vietnamese/ fusion elements and the, ” Twisted Vietnamese Cuisine.”
We started off with the steamed Shrimp Spring Rolls. Rolled in a thin sheet of rice paper and stuffed with shrimp and vegetables, this choice was a great way to enjoy a light lunch meal. Plus the dipping sauce added a rich savory flavor to this starter item.
We then moved on to the Razor Clams, oh boy do I love novelty! This was my first time eating razor clams and I loved them. They were sauteed in oil with garlic and finished off with some herbs and peppers. I can’t wait to make a copy cut versions at home.
Sauteed with scallions, red peppers and fish sauce, the corn with baby shrimp gave us a a whole new way of how to enjoy corn. The flavor was well balanced between the sweetness of the corn and the savory flavors of the shrimp. The fish sauce also added a lovely strong smell while the peppers added a mild kick.
As much as I love to nibble from small plates, I was glad to transition into more filling foods. The Mango Salad with fresh squid offered a what turned out to be more of a medley of fruit, vegetables and seafood. This item certainly added a healthy balance to the whole meal.
Another hearty selection of our meal was the, Crispy Stir Fried Noodles with Sea Food. I must say as much as I enjoyed this dish, it seemed all to familiar. Pretty much like the typical stir fried noodles you can order from any Vietnamese restaurant. But who says there is anything wrong with food being familiar?
We didn’t shy away from enjoying some all American dishes which of course make this restaurant qualify as fusion. We enjoyed an Angus Beef Pizza, a thin crust flat bread topped with pieces of beef and Brussels sprouts.
I wasn’t about to leave this tea house without sampling some of their iced teas, for which Tra House restaurant bears it’s name and owes much of its popularity to. I chose the Coconut Milk Iced Tea, It was very refreshing and a reminder of why I look forward to visiting this restaurant in the future to try out more drinks from their selection.
With a wide menu to select from and reasonably priced items, I can see myself coming back to Tra House when I am back in the area. If you are not familiar with Vietnamese cuisine and you are not as fortunate as we were to be in the company of someone who is, the waiters are very helpful and patient when choosing meals.by