Chua Giac Minh is not an eatery- it is a buddhist temple. They serve banquet food as well as noodles after the service on Sunday morning. They also offer take out food for sale, and you don’t have to wait before the service ends (usually around ~12:30). This review is for the takeout food. The food is cooked by the nuns and temple volunteers. I want to highlight the takeout food items that offer outstanding quality and value.
Their tofu quality is spectacular. One can tell from the tofu dishes that its made very fresh. I didn’t ask if the tofu was made on site and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. The quality of the tofu itself was perhaps even better than the ones at Sogo Tofu in San Jose. The food was homey, and cooked with care. Seasoned simply and skillfully without the use of flavor enhancers.
Apologize in advance for the lack of details in certain dishes as I don’t speak Vietnamese and have trouble asking for details on the dishes.
^^^ Cơm chiên- broken fried rice. Today I finally was able to score a box of fried rice after missing out on previous visits. Its made with broken rice. A cross between sticky and regular rice. It contains wood ear, carrot, tofu pieces that is made to resemble meat, and small sauteed tofu cubes. Seasoned with freshly ground black pepper, scallions and garnished with cilantro. Its not oily and its one of the better renditions of fried rice around the Peninsula.
^^^ Fried tofu. Seasoned simply with lemongrass on top, its perfectly fried with a slightly crispy outer tofu layer and soft tofu inside. Homey, and not oily. Would be even better eaten hot.
^^^ I must admit I had no idea what this dish was beyond that its a type of salad. I couldn’t figure much out of the components either, maybe seaweed, carrot, and monk fruit?? It was seasoned boldly and great either eaten by itself or sprinkled on top of other dishes. I need to go back and ask them how they make this dish- its hard to figure out how they coaxed so much flavor out of this dish with vegetarian ingredients.
^^^ “Vegetarian chicken” two ways- sauteed (left) and very slightly sauteed (right). Its made with tofu skins with wood ears and cellophane noodles. Very simply flavored with salt with the lemongrass stalk as the ‘bone’ giving a touch of citrus-y fragrance to the tofu skins around.
^^^ “Vegetarian fish”. First sauteed then braised, the vegetarian fish was made with a layer of tofu skin on the outside, a piece of seaweed just underneath and layers of tofu skin on the inside. Very savory and slightly sweet, the tofu was garnished with tasty ginger on top.
^^^ Dumpling in banana leaf- Carrot, tofu and wood ear inside a rice flour jelly/ mochi that was infused with the fragrant aroma of the leaf. It made for a delightful appetizer.
^^^ Fried sesame ball with mung bean paste inside. Got the last one. Delightful dessert.
^^^ Fried spring roll with wood ear and vegetable inside. Well fried and seasoned.
^^^ Quite possibly the most outstanding dish of the meal to me and recommended by the volunteers, the tofu was likely first sauteed then braised in a slightly sweet and very savory broth. Chilis were added for visual but the dish was not spicy. Again, I don’t know how they got so much umami with vegetarian ingredients. Its a cold dish.
$28 for everything. Bought for 2 people. Enough for 4-5 except maybe the carb. Outstanding value. Feel free to make additional donation to the temple.
They also serve banquet meals inside and noodles outside. Didn’t try these this time. This Sunday, the temple was peaceful and there was no crowd. Don’t go to the temple when they celebrate the birthday of Buddha’s mother, and perhaps other important Buddhist dates. The crowds on those days are absolute madness.