Golden Deli is supposed to be the best Vietnamese restaurant in LA, so I came with high expectations. I braved an hour's worth of scary freeway driving with lots of large trucks to eat my favorite cuisine (or is sushi my favorite?), which I don't eat nearly often enough.
The restaurant was easy to find, thanks to the exterior shot I'd seen on Yelp! and the good fortune I had to hit a red light at the major intersection where it's located. Just as I was wondering if I was hopelessly lost and hopefully late to meet a client, there it was. Parking and wait times for a table are both supposed to be nightmares, but on a Monday at 1:00, I didn't have trouble with either.
The eggroll appetizer was recommended repeatedly by Yelpers, and yes, these are the best eggrolls you will ever eat. Served glistening with frying oil and hot enough to sear your tongue for a week, the eggrolls have a crispy, paper-thin exterior that gives way to an addictive filling of ground meat and spices. Yes, I took home the leftovers and ate one cold in the middle of the night. I just couldn't wait until the next day or the ten minutes it would have taken to re-crisp it in the toaster oven. They're an awfully good bargain, too, at $5.25 for five eggrolls.
Try as I might--okay, I don't try. I always order the pho tai at Vietnamese restaurants. Now, I know you're not going to believe me on this one, but St. Louis still wins my vote for best pho. Yes, it does. St. Louis has a significant population of Vietnamese immigrants and some of the best Vietnamese food I've ever eaten. Aside from San Francisco and Westminister/Garden Grove, of course. No place in LA has managed to satisfy me with its pho--the broth is never meaty enough, the meat is never tender enough, and I like a lot of star anise.
To drink/for dessert, I ordered an avocado milkshake. I know it sounds gross, but trust me--it's delicious. Think vanilla, but with umami. This treat probably has enough calories to get you through three days, but you've already ruined any pretense of a diet with those eggrolls.
The service was good--the food arrived astoundingly quickly, considering it was obviously freshly prepared, and our waters were refilled regularly.
If I went back, I'd definitely order the eggrolls and the avocado milkshake again, but I'd try a different entree. Well, ideally, I'd try about three. If you've been suffering through what passes for Vietnamese food elsewhere in Los Angeles proper, Golden Deli is worth the drive. Take your friends, too, so you can mooch off their plates.
815 W. Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Golden Deli website