Nguyen’s Kitchen, 4021 Grand Ave. (at Pipeline), Chino; open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Nguyen’s is a recent addition to the Chino Spectrum shopping center, over in the food section at Grand and Pipeline, where there’s a Starbucks and a half-dozen casual restaurants clustered around a fountain and outdoor seating. It took the place of the area’s only Jollibee.
With a hankering for Vietnamese food, I drove down for lunch on a recent Sunday. It’s inviting inside with a lot of wood and deep booths, some that seat two and others that might seat eight, plus tastefully framed and matted Vietnam photos. The menu is simple, with a few sandwiches, noodle dishes and rice bowls, hardly a dozen items all told.
I ordered the grilled pork sandwich ($7), cajun fries ($4) and a peach lychee tea ($3.50) and took a seat. The fries came out first and merited their own tray. They were delicious, with chunks of roasted garlic, and plentiful. They’d have made a meal on their own or have been good for sharing. My sandwich was ready as I was polishing off the fries, and at that point I almost didn’t need the sandwich anymore. But I ate it anyway, of course.
It was a banh mi, for those who know their Vietnamese food, but not named as such: grilled pork on a roll with carrots, daikon, cucumber and cilantro, and likewise delicious. And the tea tasted strongly of peach.
I’d return here as the noodle and rice dishes — including garlic noodles or rice with chicken, pork, bulgogi or shrimp — also sounded appealing. The hip-hop radio station was turned up a bit loud, though. Nguyen’s has locations in Costa Mesa and Orange. Surprisingly, Nguyen’s is the second Vietnamese restaurant in that corner of the Spectrum. Pho Grand is just across the patio.