Iconic noodles

Co Do Deli

The mi quang noodles at Co Do Deli

The mi quang noodles at Co Do Deli

photo by Scott Duncan

Good for: mi quang noodles, banh xeo
Vietnamese, South Sacramento

Co DO Deli

6665 Stockton Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95823
Ste. 10

(916) 427-8305

Sacramento has a number of iconic dishes. I’m referring to the hype and lore surrounding the lasagna at Biba, the banana cream pie at Frank Fat’s, the fried chicken at South or the sweetbreads at The Waterboy.

You wouldn’t necessarily think that a dish as iconic as any of the aforementioned would emerge from an establishment fronted by a potholed parking lot that frequently hosts dueling crawdad vendors. But I would remind you that many of Sacramento’s finest dishes spring from similarly humble surroundings (think: Quan Nem Ninh Hoa’s roll-your-own nem nuong spring rolls, Lalo’s Restaurant’s weekend barbacoa or Yang’s Noodles’ beef roll).

At Co Do Deli, the mi quang noodles ($6.75-$9.75) is one such dish. It originates from the central Vietnamese province of Quang Nam. The bowl of wide turmeric-infused rice noodles is topped with chopped peanuts, tender pork, shell-on shrimp and scallion. It’s nestled on the side by a large rice cracker. The accompanying dishes are a plate of shredded banana blossom, cabbage and mint, and a small, warm bowl of broth. Doctor up the noodle bowl with the ingredients you’ve been given, and then pour over the broth that covers the bottom of the bowl by a couple of inches, wonderfully flavoring and lightly cooking the greens and wilting the layer of lettuce tucked under the noodles. The result is an addictive dish where each bite yields some slightly different combo of rich, savory, crunchy, fatty, herbaceous, slippery, toothsome, slurpy, uh … shrimpy—I could keep going.

In fact, I struggled to write this review because when I visit Co Do (frequently), I rarely want to order anything else.

But lucky for you, dear reader, there is much else that’s good here, starting with a solid banh xeo ($6.95). Many people often mistake the Vietnamese crepe for an egg dish due to its omelet-like appearance (turmeric makes it golden). A seemingly simple dish, restaurants struggle with the texture, and it’s often quite soggy. Co Do serves an ultra crisp and thick version, studded with shrimp and fatty pork cuts.

As for other appetizers, the nem cuon rolls ($3.95) pack a ton of garlicky pork flavor into each roll, although the meat is thinly sliced, and they mostly contain rice-noodles and herbs. In an era when many of us are trying to reduce meat consumption, Vietnamese cuisine serves as a wonderful example of how to use meat as a condiment.

The hen xuc banh trang ($6.95), or tiny stir-fried baby clams, are skippable and not as good as some other spots serve.

Do not skip some of the other soups besides mi quang. The cloudy pho is light on the spice for those of you who enjoy a more subtle pho, and the bun rieu has soft pork meatballs that bring to mind an Italian wedding soup. It’s so good, it could make a Vietnamese—or Italian—grandma cry.

As for me? I’ll have the mi quang.