Monday, September 14, 2015

Watercress Vietnamese Bistro - Redlands

I don't think of Redlands as a great culinary area, but we recently discovered a wonderful restaurant, my favorite Vietnamese food ever, here. It may actually be more Asian fusion than Vietnamese, but fresh ingredients, artistic presentations, and really fantastic sweet mashed potatoes provide a very different and fantastic taste treat. The sweet mashed potatoes are an option with most meals along with soup, a salad, steamed rice or brown rice. The sweet mashed potatoes are thick and creamy, have a sweet, buttery taste, and I love them so much that I've not tried any of the other options, except one soup that I ordered as a separate item so that I could still have the sweet mashed potatoes. We've been back a number of times to try different dishes and I haven't had a bad one yet. 
Sweet mashed potatoes
The one soup I did try was cream of corn and leek with chicken dumplings. It was very mild, but thick and creamy. A nice soup option, but not worth foregoing sweet mashed potatoes for. 
Not one of the soup options, but a semi-soup, Judy had the pho dac blet, a beef soup with rice noodles, rare thin sliced beef, brisket, tendons and tripe with bean sprouts, basil, chili, hoisin sauce and lime. She enjoyed it and it is a lot of food. 
She has also had hu tieu hoac mi bo kho, a beef stew with egg noodles, bean sprouts, basil, chili and lime.
A nice appetizer was rice paper summer rolls with grilled bbq pork, vermicelli noodles, lettuce, bean sprouts, mint herbs and peanut sauce. I think I like these better than any other summer or spring rolls I've ever eaten. The pork is a nice addition, as is the vermicelli and I really like the peanut sauce. We'll have these again.
A real winner is the thit heo kho nuoc dua, braised five spice pork belly and quail egg atop sweet mashed potatoes with mustard greens. The fatty pork belly combines perfectly texture-wise with the sweet mashed potatoes and is a wonderful, wonderful dish. 
Ca kho to is claypot fish in a sweet-savory black pepper caramel sauce with pickled carrots and daikons. The fish was moist and tender, the sauce was savory and sweet and it was a very nice dish, but probably not one I'd get again just because there are other dishes I like so much more. 
Probably my favorite dish, I've had it several times, is the ca chien, pan-seared marinated seabass with tumeric with shallot lemongrass sambal relish, on top of sweet mashed potatoes. The seabass is cooked perfectly, very moist, a nice savory flavor, a little bit of spice from the relish, and the sweet from the mashed potatoes. One of my favorite fish dishes. 
Tom ca ri is yellow curry shrimp has baby carrots, fingerling potatoes, pearl onions, scallions and cilantro (but fortunately not too much).  Good, but not a dish I'll have again with other better options. 
Judy had bl do kho, braised five spice kabocha squash with fennel in a sweet ginger soy. She got it with rice, instead of sweet mashed potatoes, which I think is a mistake, but she really enjoyed it. I don't know many restaurants that serve kabocha squash, a great vegetarian option. 
Hu tieu hoac mi xao is baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms and baby carrots on wok-fried egg noodles, another very good vegetarian item. 
Finally, we've had a couple of desserts and they've both been good. A passion fruit cream cheese pie was topped in whipped cream, slathered in a strong orange passion fruit sauce and sprinkled with what tasted like freeze-dried fruit. A very fun, different and good dessert.
Then an interesting rendition of mango and stick-rice. The sticky rice was topped with a raspberry, sprigs of mint, and slices of mango, with more mango slices on the far end of the plate. A very good version of the dish and the most interesting presentation of it I've seen.
I love this restaurant and look forward to trying more of its dishes.


  1. I've never had Vietnamese food, but this food all looks delicious.

  2. I love that kabocha squash dish, but eating squash on top of squash would be to much. The rice adds a different texture and flavor. This place is a winner, and it's also very affordable.