When you're in the Northridge/Chatsworth area, there aren't a lot of unique dining options--almost every restaurant is a large, loud chain. Cafe Orient is an oasis in the desert, serving homemade Chinese and Vietnamese food in a hand-decorated, cozy, lavender setting. Despite being small, the restaurant was uncrowded enough that we were able to be seated right away. Fortunately, we made it there before the 9:00 closing time.
(Note: I wrote this last year and just discovered that I had never posted it. Hopefully Cafe Orient has not gone away since then. Drop me a line if you know anything.)
The orange chicken had a delicate orange flavor and was sweet without tasting candied. Rather, it tasted like it was actually made with the juice of an orange and wasn't laden with cornstarch, unlike most of the Chinese food I've eaten. The charbroiled beef was flavorful and tender, but unnecessarily greasy and didn't quite taste like Vietnamese food. Though the meat could have used more lemongrass flavor, the nuoc cham and rice made the dish addictively good.
Overall, everything about the experience was hassle-free, even parking (there is a large lot in front). This restaurant is probably not your best bet if authenticity is what you're after, but for a comfortable dining experience with decent food, low prices, and uncannily fast service, Cafe Orient is a good choice.
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Cafe Orient Hours: