Where the Wild Things Are.
Here is a place to sneak off to if mother sends you to bed without supper. Phong Dinh is the "King of all Wild Things". Everything is cooked to order so make sure if you want the catfish that you call one hour prior to arriving. All manners go out the window as it's nice to just dig in with your hands. I went with a group of people which made for a nice experience. Each dish came in its own sauce.
We were greeted immediately upon arrival and seated right away as the staff was friendly. You could tell by the atmosphere that people were here for the experience as much as the food
Baked Catfish -The catfish was fresh and I was expecting some crispy skin however it was nice and tender. The dish is made to be eaten as a wrap because It comes with vermicelli noodles, wraps,bean sprouts, cucumbers, a nice tangy sweet sauce and a plate of nice herbs. At first, eating the catfish alone it was bland but when wrapped and adding all the accompaniments everything seemed to work well.
Quail Eggs Wrapped in Shrimp Paste -This was a surprisingly delighful dish. The creaminess of the yolk and the saltiness of the shrimp paste complement each other perfectly
Sauteed Kangaroo with Black Pepper -I can honestly say I like
Kangaroo. I can also honestly say that I wasn't too sure about it before it was placed in front of me. it had a nice texture and was very moist. This was served fajita style. Meat nice and tender.
Sauteed Boar -The reason I give this dish a two is because the flavor of the boar was not there. The curry seemed to overpower this dish. I love boar and I love Thai curry but the under note of the coconut dominated this dish. Don't get me wrong, the curry sauce was great but put together and it was a curry dish with boar that I couldn't taste.
Manila Clams -This was a great dish as the liquor of the clams with the garlic, bell pepper and chili added a very robust flavor. .
Water Spinach -This was one of my favorite dishes. The water spinach was nice and tender and sauteed to perfection. Reminds me of rapini.
Bok Choy and Garlic -I love it when Bok Choy is cooked right and it definitely was here sauteed with garlic..
Alligator -This reptile was tasty.I have never had alligator like this. I have always eaten it ground as a burger. It was kind of scary to see the claw and I must admit I was intimated. But, what the heck, I ate it. It was a bit chewy and the actual claw really had no taste but again the sauce was good. The menu says minced alligator which is misleading because there is nothing minced about this meat. Sesame rice crackers were served with the alligator.
Snake -Now this slithering reptile definitely needed some work I can not really describe the taste. It was served wrapped in a "lot" leaf as it reminded me of a stuffed grape leaf dolma. It also had a bitter after taste and there was a crunch, I just don't know what it was.
Here is the evidence, we finished the catfish.
Phong Dinh Restaurant
2643 San Gabriel Blvd
Rosemead, CA 91770