TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE FOOD TO-GO
If we’ve learned anything over the last two years it’s that restaurants that offer quality food to-go as well as delivery options are built for success. And that’s exactly what San Gabriel’s Tay Ho is counting on.
Tay Ho founder Vivian Yenson, a 20-year-old full-time college senior, was born for this.
You see, Vivian is the eldest granddaughter of Linda Tuyet Nguyen, the original matriarch of this family-owned business and the eldest daughter of Nguyen’s eldest son Jayce Yenson, CEO of Tay Ho Restaurants and Tay Ho Food Company.
Tay Ho was originally established in 1986 as a traditional Vietnamese sit down restaurant, but the family story began long before. As newcomers to America, the Yenson family worked all together in tiny bánh cuon (specialty rice crepes) shops where Linda Tuyet Nguyen grew to be a trusted member of the community. Her passion for Vietnamese cuisine and the numerous bonds she created with her customers led to a larger vision and this is where it all really began.
Fast forward to young Vivian, a business major with a concentration in finance and operations supply chain, saw there was a data job opening at Tay Ho and not long after she started her father realized she had a real grasp for numbers. As Vivian got more involved at Tay Ho working side-by-side with her father, he could see her entrepreneurial spirit and that she was becoming more and more inspired each day realizing she could combine her love of business and her lifelong love of food. It was then Vivian’s passion parlayed into a creative vision bringing Tay Ho’s authentic and delicious Vietnamese street food to the masses by taking the Tay Ho tradition to-go.
The restaurant, which also includes an all female team in their twenties, was named after the Tay Ho District located in Vietnam's capital Hanoi. Tay Ho honors the tradition of authentic and delicious Vietnamese street food where the focus is on the preparation, utilizing handcrafted elements, slow cooked broths, and steamed vegetables.
“I grew up watching my parents work hard to make the best bánh cuon possible,” says Vivian Yenson. “I sat in restaurants doing homework while my mom helped customers, watched my grandmother bring all of us together for dinner every night.
“Being able to create something people love and share it with everyone is our goal as Tay Ho continues to grow. Vietnamese cuisine tells a story, and there’s a lot of love and work that goes into it. Even now, our priority is to bring you delicious and handmade food just like I had with my family.”
My recent Tay Ho dining experience started with pre-ordering our meal and then picking it up at the San Gabriel location. From there, our fine feast was on.
The bánh cu?n or the bánh uot (rice crepe sheets) are probably the way to go for first-timers, however, we thoroughly enjoyed the Viet Style Chicken Wings with fresh herbs and dipping sauce. The wings are left to marinade overnight in sauce and garlic, then coated in cornstarch batter then double-fried for extra crunch. They were just so damn flavorful with hints of sweet brown sugar, tangy lime sauce, and a kick of chili.
Hearty menu options include Tay Ho’s Banh Xeo (pronounced bun seo)—a Vietnamese Crispy Crepe and a staple in Vietnamese cuisine; Mi Xao (pronounced mee saow), which are house-made garlic noodles; and Chay (pronounced CH-ai), which offers seven super tasty Vegetarian options.
The Banh Cuon Set is Tay Ho’s bestseller. It takes upwards of five days to prepare and features handmade rice sheets three different ways: ground pork and mushroom rolls, ground shrimp rolls, and intricately folded on its own. This dish also comes with shrimp and yam fritters and generous slices of Vietnamese ham.
We opted and absolutely loved the Garlic Noodles with Seasoned Filet Mignon Steak. But let’s be real here, as it’s all about the tasty noodles, which are the star of the show. Sure, the steak was very nice but I think any of the other options (lemongrass marinated chicken, garlic shrimp or tofu and varietal mushrooms) would have worked nicely. The noodles were just perfect.
Another filing and fantastic option was the Tay Ho Fried Rice with shrimp and Vietnamese ham. This is a good one to share or to enjoy as multiple meals.
If you have a sweet tooth like I do, enjoy a Thai Tea or Vietnamese Iced Coffee. There is also Vietnamese Black Coffee for real coffee lovers as well as Taro Milk Tea along with Lychee Lemonade and Lychee Green Tea for fans of caffeine.
While it can be haul to trek to San Gabriel, do make the trip to Tay Ho if you’re in the area. And if you live in the San Gabriel Valley, well, get to know this little shop with its big, bold flavors.
Tay Ho Restaurant is located at 529 E. Valley Blvd in San Gabriel. Open daily except Wednesday from 10am to 6pm. Call (626) 778-1000.
Story By: Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy Of: Tay Ho Restaurant