My entire life I've been fortunate to have access to the most amazing home cooked Vietnamese food made by my mom. There's nothing like a steamy hot bowl of bun bo hue, a spicy lemongrass beef noodle soup with beef shank, pork roll, congealed pork blood, and pork leg/feet.
There's no other bun bo hue that can compare to my mom's version. I can load up my bowl with an unlimited variety of meats, in addition to a side bowl of all the pork feet I could ever dream of gnawing on. And she makes this awesome lemongrass chili paste that's loaded with pieces of crispy pork fat that goes with the bun bo hue. But let's be real, I can't visit her every single time I want Vietnamese food. Thankfully Oakland offers a few good places that helps to alleviate the cravings.
Da Nang Quan at 615 E 12th Street in Oakland has been around for about two years and is one of the places I enjoy eating at that offers some unique central Vietnam dishes that you normally can't find at just any Vietnamese restaurant. I've visited a few times and sometimes the food is really freakin' good, other times it has been mediocre and disappointing. They suck on being consistent, but it is a place that I still visit because even their mediocre bowl of bun bo hue outweighs most of the other bowls offered in the area - plus they're one of the only few places that offers full meaty bone-in pork leg/feet and spoon dropped pork paste.
When their bun bo hue is at its best, you can clearly taste the rich and concentrated beef stock and flavors of lemongrass. It's served with a side of traditional veggies: cabbage, banana blossom, mint, rau ram, and bean sprouts. There's also a side of grey shrimp paste to add into the broth for that extra layer of umami.
Their banh beo makes a great appetizer, much different than the banh beo I grew up with. Small rice flour cakes are topped with ground shrimp with a paste texture, along with ground pork, fried shallots and peanuts. I love spooning over the fish sauce into each banh beo dish and scooping out the thin layer of rice cake.
Da Nang Quan doesn't offer the best bun rieu I've had in Oakland, but this was good compared to most. Their bowls are loaded with tomatoes, fried broth-soaked tofu, crab and pork meatballs, pork roll, and congealed pork blood. A touch of grey ground shrimp paste is a must to elevate their bun rieu broth, which can be a teensy bit bland. But remember, as with most Vietnamese broths, you are encouraged to use chillis and condiments to flavor it as you prefer.
Da Nang Quan is definitely a great option for Central Vietnamese eats and I'd highly recommend checking it out if you're in Oakland.
Visiting Da Nang Quan
615 E. 12th St., Oakland, CA 94606
MONDAY - WEDNESDAY: 9AM — 8PM
FRIDAY - SUNDAY: 9AM — 8PM