Thien Long Restaurant (San Jose)

This may become our new favorite Vietnamese restaurant in San Jose.

Thien Long: Bun Cha Ca La Vong

Thien Long: Bun Cha Ca La Vong

Thao An is on our list of Top 5 Favorite Places to Eat in the South Bay because it’s 1) good, 2) cheap and 3) close to our house.  The other day, we wanted to take Mum to lunch at Thao An.  But when we got there, the door was locked and there was a sign posted:


Renovations!?  What about your loyal customers!?  Stymied, we drove a couple blocks further to the new Paloma Mall at Lexan Ave. and Silver Creek Rd. to our backup, Thien Long Restaurant.

Thien Long Storefront

Thien Long storefront

We’ve eaten here several times before, when we’re looking for something different.  We like their bun bo hue, their fish jook, and their Vietnamese Shaking Beef.  This is a large platter with a heaping mound of tomato rice with an even larger pile of stir-fried chunks of filet mignon with bell peppers, onions and mushrooms atop a bed of lettuce.

Thien Long: Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Thien Long: Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Everytime we go in, we always see people ordering either the shaking beef or this dish, the Bun Cha Ca La Vong.  The previous times we’ve come here, we didn’t want to order this dish because it was  so expensive – $20.95 (NOTE: this restaurant is CASH ONLY). The dish is actually meant for a family to share but since we always got other dishes, we never had chance to try it out.

Thien Long: Bun Cha Ca La Vong

Thien Long: Bun Cha Ca La Vong

Cha Ca La Vong is a famous restaurant in Hanoi that serves only one thing: grilled turmeric fish on dill.  They’ve been doing it successfully for over 100 years now.  Thien Long’s version is a nod to that dish.

I believe the boneless white fish fillets being used are basa / catfish.  The fish is dusted with turmeric and laid on a bed of dill.  The dish arrives at your table sizzling on a metal plate atop a charcoal brazier.  It is served with a platter of bun (rice vermicelli noodles), lettuce, various fresh herbs, slices of cucumber, and a bowl of dipping sauce.

Thien Long: Bun, Fish Sauce, Herbs, Cucumber

Thien Long: Bun Fish Sauce, Herbs, Cucumber

You’re supposed to take some of the lettuce, a little of the bun, add a piece or two of fish, and top it with the herbs.  Roll it all up (if you can), dip, and stuff in your maw.  I’m not so expert at it, but it doesn’t matter as long as you aren’t dropping food all over the table 😉

Their beef pho is good, but not (IMO) as good as Beef Noodle #1, just a block away on Capitol Expressway.  For pho, it’s all about the broth and I find Thien Long’s pho broth to be behind Beef Noodle #1 in "oomph".

Thien Long: Beef Pho

Thien Long: Beef Pho

Thien Long is slightly more expensive than Thao An. But it’s still good food, and still close to our house.  While Thao An is closed for renovations, we will be getting much of our Vietnamese food fix here at Thien Long.

Where is your favorite Vietnamese restaurant? Leave a comment and share!

Aloha,  Nate

Thien Long Restaurant
3005 Silver Creek Rd, #138
San Jose, CA  95121
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(The restaurant is actually on the Lexann Avenue side of the mall, closer to Target and right across from the Tapioca Express.)

9 thoughts on “Thien Long Restaurant (San Jose)”

  1. >Thanks for the recommendations. I have never tried both. If I am ever back, I will make it a point to try. What do you think of Vung Tau in San Jose ?

  2. >I like Pho Vi Hoa in Los Altos – really yummy. My only complaint is that the fried rice is too greasy for me, but I don’t like fried rice anyway.

  3. >@tigerfish – Vung Tau is good, but a little pricey. They are one of the better-known Vietnamese restaurants in San Jose.

    @Magpie – thanks for the suggestion!

    @Mrs. L – you’re welcome. Do you have a favorite Vietnamese place?

  4. >Your Bun Cha Ca La Vong photos are excrutiatingly delicious-looking.

    Thank goodness we are going out for pho tonight. There is a local family owned chain here called Than Brothers and their broth really packs the “oomph.” They also bring you a delictably light cream puff with each order or pho, as one of their side businesses is pastry catering.

    Here near Seattle we seem to have as many pho joints as we do espresso stands. Is it as pho-crazy in your area?

  5. >You are so lucky to have all these choices. We have one Vietnamese restaurant that is about 25 minutes away from us. It’s not all that great and it’s kind of expensive.

  6. >@Jenster – in San Jose, we have one of the largest concentrations of Vietnamese in the United States. So to say there are a lot of pho restaurants here is an understatement.

    @Pam – Old Saigon in Hixon seems to have some good reviews. Is this the restaurant you’re talking about?

  7. >Vung Tau in San Jose is my fave. But Thien Long sounds amazing. I must try it soon. Do they happen to have rice crepes on the menu?

  8. >@Carolyn – no, Thien Long doesn’t serve Banh Xeo. For that we go to Tay Ho on Senter Rd near Lewis.

    Maybe we should give Vung Tau another shot.

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