Rodeo 39: Stop by for Laotian BBQ, divine Detroit-Style Pizza, Vietnamese Crepes, Japanese Ramen, Hawaiian Fusion Plates! Kra-Z-Kai's BBQ, Steel Pan Pizza, Banh Xeo Boys, Primal Cuts, Bearded Tang Brewery, Fika Fika Creamery [Thoughts + Pics]

Ah, the Food Court. The bastion of American commercialism and convenience that’s been a mainstay of most shopping malls around the country has changed greatly over the years. While you still see the typical versions at malls, it feels like the past few years have really seen an evolution to the concept, with elevated Food Courts now being marketed as “Public Markets” or “Food Halls.”

When Rodeo 39 Public Market was first announced, it sounded like just another typical Food Hall. But when we found out Steel Pan Pizza (one of the best Detroit-style Pizza specialists in So Cal) was moving there, we had to pay a visit. :slight_smile:

Walking into Rodeo 39 Public Market, you can’t help but appreciate the open-air design, beautiful simplicity, but also a certain modern sleekness as well. It is an inviting space, with lots of open entrances and places for light to flow in.

There are a few retail / gift shops, a flower shop and the now-requisite Asian-style Bakery.

Nandomo, a new Japanese Ramen specialist sounded great until we noticed it was basically a new branch of HiroNori Craft Ramen (a mini-chain which produces average Ramen).

Steel Pan Pizza

But we were here to try out Steel Pan Pizza at their new location. A Detroit-Style Pizza specialist, Steel Pan was a huge surprise for us when we tried them last year at their original location. We were hoping their relocation wouldn’t affect their Pizzas.

Cuppy 'Roni (Pepperoni Pizza with Crispy Cupped Pepperoni):

Every order is cooked to order (there are no reheated slices), which adds to the pleasure of eating a Steel Pan Pizza. Taking a bite:

Piping hot, a perfect balance of melted, luscious Cheese and crunchy edges and bottom. The Pepperoni wasn’t overly salty, perfect little crisped cups of porky goodness! :heart:

Burrata Margherita (Red Pie Drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Topped with Creamy Burrata and Fresh Basil):

A new addition to their menu, this was classic Margherita Pizza flavors on a Detroit-Style Pizza. And it worked beautifully: Their Housemade Red Sauce isn’t overly acidic, balanced, and the Fresh Burrata Cheese was light and creamy, accented by the very fresh Basil, all on top of their fantastic crunchy, crispy crust! :heart:

The Vegan Pizza (Topped with Housemade Cashew Cheese, Mushrooms, Grilled Broccolini, Bell Peppers & Onions):

Similar to our previous visits at their old location, the Vegan is a fantastic Pizza even for meat lovers. Their Housemade Cashew Cheese isn’t really like a regular dairy Cheese - this is more creamy and saucy - but it adds that layer of lusciousness and works well with the Mushrooms, Bell Peppers, Onions and Grilled Broccolini and their crunchy crust.

2nd Visit:

Our 2nd visit to Steel Pan at their new location (4th visit overall) was even better.

The Veggie Pizza (Mozzarella Cheese, Mushrooms, Grilled Broccolini, Bell Peppers, Onions):

This was essentially their Vegan Pizza, but with real Mozzarella Cheese instead. The result was even tastier. Mushrooms, Onions, Bell Peppers, Grilled Broccolini atop wonderfully melted Cheese and crisp crunchy Detroit-Style Pizza crust. Wonderful! :heart:

Cuppy 'Roni (Pepperoni Pizza with Crispy Cupped Pepperoni):

By the 2nd visit Steel Pan Pizza seemed to be settled into their new kitchen. Their Pepperoni Pizza was flawless! Gorgeous, crisped Pepperoni “grease chalices”, not overly salty, balanced, delicious melted Mozzarella and the crunchy-crisp edges and crust!

This is so much better than over-hyped places like Apollonia’s, and probably one of the best Detroit-Style Pizzas in So Cal! :heart: :blush: :heart: (@gr8pimpin @ipsedixit @attran99 and others.)

Fries:

Surprisingly, Steel Pan’s Fries are pretty darn good! :open_mouth: Fried to a beautiful golden brown, they are crispy, lightly crunchy and soft on the inside. Like their Pizzas, made-to-order, so they were piping hot as well. :blush:

Steel Pan Pizza
(inside Rodeo 39 Public Market)
12885 Beach Boulevard
Stanton, CA 90680

Looking next door, imagine our surprise in seeing…

Banh Xeo Boys

This is a Banh Xeo (or Vietnamese Crepe) specialist that seemed to be focused on introducing and popularizing this Vietnamese dish to Western audiences. Their menu is accessible, with more hip / fun names like “Saigon Hangover” “Chicken Gone Fishin’” and more.

Pandan Horchata:

Refreshing, lightly floral, this was a fun, interesting twist on the classic Mexican Horchata Rice drink, but infused with Pandan Leaf, making this a Vietnamese-Mexican hybrid. :slight_smile:

The Banh Xeo Boys cashier recommended we try:

Swimming Pig Banh Xeo (Pork Belly & Shrimp Vietnamese Crepe):

One of the first things that struck me was how pristine the Greens were! :open_mouth: Just look at how fresh and vibrant the Greens / Herbs were. At many Vietnamese restaurants locally, you might find some Herbs or Lettuces slightly browning / wilting. But the Greens served with our order were flawless. It really added to the taste and appeal.

Beyond that, the Banh Xeo (made from Rice Flour, Turmeric) was super crispy, hot, and stuffed with Pork Belly and Shrimp. Adding a bit of that on the pristine Romaine Lettuce, fresh Cilantro, Mint, their Housemade Pickled Veggies, and dipping it in their Nuoc Cham (Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce) and this was absolutely delicious! :heart:

2nd Visit:

For the 2nd Visit, we chose their…

Lonely Fisherman Banh Xeo (Shrimp Vietnamese Crepe):

As with the first visit, their Banh Xeo was served with flawless, perfectly fresh Romaine Lettuce and Herbs. And it was just as wonderfully crispy as the before. The pure Shrimp version was quite tasty, but I think we liked the mix of Pork Belly & Shrimp in the Swimming Pig.

Either way, Banh Xeo Boys turned out to be Rodeo 39’s 2nd pillar, really solidifying the dining options for this new Food Hall.

Banh Xeo Boys
(inside Rodeo 39 Public Market)
12885 Beach Boulevard
Stanton, CA 90680

Shootz

Based on quality and taste alone, you would think Steel Pan and Banh Xeo Boys would have the longest lines (and they did have a steady stream of customers), but the most popular stand at Rodeo 39 by far was Shootz, a Hawaiian Fusion fast-casual eatery, with a line (on multiple visits) of over 20+ people each time.

Seeing the popularity, we had to give it a try to see what the excitement was about.

Spam Brulee Musubi:

This seemed like a rather brilliant idea: Brulee / torch the top of a classic Hawaiian Spam Musubi Roll to add texture and flavor.

Unfortunately, it was just OK. The Spam Musubi Brulee slightly added to the taste (not really crusty or texturally contrasting to the soft Rice and Spam). Otherwise, it tasted like a standard Spam Musubi (not bad).

Spam Fried Rice:

Seeing their website video, it looked like they had some serious Wok frying skills making Fried Rice, but our version tasted overly greasy, soft and damp. There wasn’t anything that really stood out in this Fried Rice.

Kimchi Butter Katsu Chicken Plate:

Their most popular dish was the Kimchi Butter Katsu Chicken. Being a huge Tonkatsu (Fried Cutlet) fan, I’m always appreciative of a new Katsu specialist. Sadly, Shootz’ much hyped dish turned out to be mediocre at best:

We picked up our food right after they texted us, and opened it within a minute at the most (at an outside table). The Chicken Katsu Cutlet was soggy, steamed batter on the outside (although with moist Chicken within). :frowning: The Butter was excessive and unnecessary. There was no taste of Kimchi at all.

Their Mac Salad tasted like a pretty straightforward version of a Macaroni Salad on a Hawaiian plate. It was fine.

Perhaps we went on an off day, but Shootz was the biggest disappointment at Rodeo 39 Public Market, even though it had the longest lines.

Shootz
(inside Rodeo 39 Public Market)
12885 Beach Boulevard
Stanton, CA 90680

Bearded Tang Brewery

At the center of Rodeo 39 stood Bearded Tang Brewery, a local Micro-Brewery making a large variety of Ales and Lagers on tap (and in growlers to go). This was a nice touch and made Rodeo 39 feel more like a place to enjoy a meal and grab a local Brew on draft in the process.

Bro Pils (Bohemian-Style Pilsner) + Lucky Fin (Japanese Rice Lager):

Both their Bro Pils and Lucky Fin turned out to be light, refreshing and a nice pairing with the various dishes we tried.

Bearded Tang Brewery
(inside Rodeo 39 Public Market)
12885 Beach Boulevard
Stanton, CA 90680

Next to Bearded Tang Brewery was Oi Asian Fusion, which turned out to be a local Filipino Fusion mini-chain. The menu looked OK, with items like Chicken Adobo, and Desserts like Manila Mango, Ube Upside Down Pie, but we were too stuffed on our visits to try them. Perhaps next time.

Primal Cuts

Adding to the eclectic nature of Rodeo 39 was Primal Cuts, an artisan Butcher Shop, where you could choose whatever cut of Steak from the case and they’ll grill it up for you to eat at the Food Hall(!). I can’t imagine how enjoyable that would be using a plastic fork & knife to cut up a steak (or perhaps they cut it up for you), but they also were serving a Grass-Fed Beef Burger which looked tasty.

Butcher’s Burger with Fries (Aged Angus Beef, Swiss, Garlic Aioli, Arugula, Caramelized Onion, Sun-Dried Tomato, White Bun):

Their Butcher’s Burger was cooked to a near perfect medium-rare (nice). The first bite yielded the unmistakable beefy funk of Aged Angus Beef. The rest of the Burger was trying hard to mimic the more popular Gourmet Burger flavor profiles around town in some ways, the Arugula, Caramelized Onions, Garlic Aioli. The downside to the Burger was their White Bun: It tasted like a mass-produced, dry, crumbly, soft, typical Burger Bun.

Looking past that, the rest of the Burger was a respectable, tasty Gourmet Burger. Not something worth going out of your way for, but if you’re at Rodeo 39 and craving a quality Burger, Primal Cuts version will suffice.

Fries:

Their Fries arrived freshly fried and piping hot. Slightly crisped. They were a nice accompaniment, but won’t dethrone the best Fries around town.

Primal Cuts
(inside Rodeo 39 Public Market)
12885 Beach Boulevard
Stanton, CA 90680

Kra-Z-Kai's Laotian BBQ

Walking to the other side of Rodeo 39, I was shocked to see the glowing neon sign for Kra-Z-Kai’s Laotian BBQ! I had read about this Laos BBQ specialist in an LA Times article a few years ago. But their original location was too far to visit at the time. It turns out they expanded and have decided to open up here at Rodeo 39 Public Market as well.

Lao BBQ Mix (Lao Chicken Thigh, Lao Pork Rib, Lao Sausage & Lao Beef Short Rib):

Lao Beef Short Rib:

The only disappointing bite in the Lao BBQ Mix Plate, the Lao Beef Short Rib tasted rather straightforward, overcooked to a well-done, it was tough, chewy and forgettable.

Lao Chicken:

The Lao Grilled Chicken Thigh turned out much better, moist, juicy Grilled Chicken Thigh marinated with their Lao BBQ Sauce. It had a sweet-savory profile, nice grilling flavor coming through and pretty tasty overall.

Lao Pork Rib:

Kra-Z-Kai’s Lao Pork Rib was even better: Juicy, wonderful porcine flavors coming through each bite, and a greater depth of flavor with their marinade. :slight_smile:

Lao Sausage:

rodeo39_029

But the best item we tried was their Lao Sausage, a Housemade Pork Sausage infused with Lemongrass, Onions and Scallions and other spices. It was fantastic! :blush: Fragrant, bursting with flavor, this was so much better than the usual BBQ Sausage offerings.

2nd Visit:

The 2nd visit was just as good as before, but this time, we discovered that you’re able to substitute the White Rice for a Lao Papaya Salad(!) (you definitely want to try this).

The Lao Papaya Salad had similarities to the more commonly found Thai Green Papaya Salad, but it still stood on its own, and served as a great foil for the Grilled BBQ meats. :slight_smile:

Kra-Z-Kai’s Laotian BBQ
(inside Rodeo 39 Public Market)
12885 Beach Boulevard
Stanton, CA 90680

Fika Fika Creamery

We wrapped up the Rodeo 39 visit with a stop by Fika Fika Creamery, a new Ice Cream specialist with some rather unique flavors such as Lychee, Osmanthus Oolong, Strawberry Pocky and more.

Vegan Cookies & Cream:

I like a good Cookies & Cream Ice Cream, but the only version they served at Fika Fika was a Vegan version. Still, our order taker said it was one of their best sellers, so I gave it a try.

The Vegan Cookies & Cream was quite good. :blush: It had an enjoyable creaminess and the sweet “Ice Cream”-like mouthfeel, but it was 100% Vegan. We wouldn’t mind having this again on our next visit, but I want to try more of their elaborate flavors as well.

Fika Fika Creamery
(inside Rodeo 39 Public Market)
12885 Beach Boulevard
Stanton, CA 90680

Rodeo 39 Public Market turned out to be a welcome new Food Hall despite the growing trend of finding them appear all over Southern California. From enjoying some excellent Laotian BBQ at Kra-Z-Kai’s (don’t miss out on their Laos BBQ Sausage with Lao Papaya Salad), some refreshing local Beers on tap from Bearded Tang Brewery, to the fantastic crispy Vietnamese Crepes at Banh Xeo Boys, and one of the best Detroit-Style Pizzas (and Pepperoni Pizzas period) at Steel Pan Pizza, Rodeo 39 Public Market is worth a visit.

Rodeo 39 Public Market
12885 Beach Boulevard
Stanton, CA 90680

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I need to try and get over here.
Nice write up, @Chowseeker1999!
Across the street is Naugles, featured in the American Taco episode of the Taco Chronicles.

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Hi @attran99,

Thank you! :slight_smile: I think you’d like it, at least try out Steel Pan and Banh Xeo Boys (and Kra-Z-Kai Laotian BBQ). :wink:

Do you have other favorites for Banh Xeo around Little Saigon?

Also, Rodeo 39 was just a couple exits away from the heart of Little Saigon so it makes for a nice trip through the entire area. :wink:

I had no idea Naugles was right across the street! How is it? Sort of like the proto-typical Taco Bell? Thanks.

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@Chowseeker1999 I think @JeetKuneBao will have better banh xeo recs than me. Banh xeo is a dish that I reserve for Mom’s home cooking.
Naugles is an off-shoot of Del Taco, I think, and it is really across the street. This location has opened recently…like in the past year or so. I haven’t been, yet, but from what I understand the locals in my neighborhood have been real excited.

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Concur, this is probably the only meat I would order again.

Also, My First Kiss has a nice ube cheesecake. The ube banana pudding and turon banana pudding were good albeit a tad too sweet for my tastes.

Love the concept at Rodeo 39, Steel Pan is awesome and I love how it is not too greasy.

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Kimchi katsu sounds bad in concept, and it sounds like it stunk in real life, too. :frowning: The pizza looks beautiful… :slight_smile:

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Hi @A5KOBE,

Thanks for the recommendation on My First Kiss Bakery. I’ll have to try it next time. And glad you liked Steel Pan as well, so good! :slight_smile:

Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

I hope you get to try Steel Pan Pizza one day. I think you’d enjoy their Pepperoni Detroit-Style. :blush: And as added incentive, Rodeo 39 is about ~8 minutes (just a couple exits) from Cococane, Ngu Binh (for delicious Bun Bo Hue (Beef Noodle Soup), and the rest of Little Saigon. :wink:

It’s also a stone’s throw away from Ben Ngu…literally down the street on Garden Grove about 3 miles away.

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I think Rodeo 39 is the best of all the food halls in the OC. They have good variety of stalls with very solid options and Bearded Tang is pretty good (at least they have options for everybody). We went a few weeks after the grand opening but haven’t been since due to covid. Great open layout and lots of seating even though it gets very crowded on the weekends.

Parking tip - go to the back off Garden Grove Blvd and Village Center Dr. There are maybe 2 dozen spots in the back but if they are full there is usually ample parking in the neighborhood. Worked for me and this was a tip handed down from my friend who lives 5 mins away. Way better than fighting for spots out front.

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Hi @js76wisco,

Glad you liked it as well. :slight_smile: When you went, did you get to try Steel Pan Pizza? Definitely worth a try.

And thanks for the parking tip! :slight_smile:

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@Chowseeker1999 I didn’t get a chance to try Steel Pan at Rodeo 39 but did enjoy a few pizzas when they were over at 4th St Market. Really good. Definitely on my list when I return.

The busiest stall by far and away was Shootz. Looked like mostly younger kids eating Instagrammable food and I didn’t want to wait in line. I also want to try the Laotian BBQ place even though it seems like you had an uneven experience.

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Hi @js76wisco,

Re: Shootz - you noticed that as well? :slight_smile: Yah it was the longest line and mediocre fusion food.

If you do return, definitely Steel Pan Pizza and their Pepperoni Detroit-Style is the one to get. :slight_smile: Banh Xeo Boys for Vietnamese Crepes is also really good, and the Laotian BBQ, if you stick with the Laotian Sausage with Papaya Salad side that’s the standout item to get there. :slight_smile: And of course Bearded Tang for some local microbrews.

The two times I have been there, once during the day and another at night, Shootz was almost 99% teenagers so I decided to pass.

I believe they used to be in the Cravings food court in Chino Hills previously and I don’t recall it being anything special, nor anything in that food court as a matter of fact.

Don’t forget the possibility of getting a tattoo while you wait for your Steel Pan pizza :smile:

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I stopped by again last night for a quick dinner and had Banh Xeo Boyz, it was delicious. The crispy crepe batter with the thin shards at the edges were a delight and the lettuce and herbs were all fresh. The nuoc cham was so great as well. The pandan horchata was pretty tasty as well.

I also banged with Kra-Z-Kai’s bbq sausage plate. Such a great sausage in flavor and texture, just love the crispy edges of the sausage.

Took a couple of Steel Pan pizzas to go, couldn’t resist as I was waiting for Banh Xeo Boyz next door.

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@A5KOBE were you able to go in and order or did you have to order online? Wasn’t sure how this place has been operating since December’s stay-at-home orders.

I went last Sunday and the center even had tables set up that people were eating at. So you can definitely walk in and place orders.

I took my Lao sausage and Detroit pizza to the hatch of my car.

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Hi @A5KOBE,

Great to hear Banh Xeo Boyz’ Banh Xeo is still great. :slight_smile: So tasty and yes, crispy!

Glad you got the Laotian BBQ Sausage Plate at Kra-Z-Kai BBQ and Steel Pan as well! Nice bang x bang. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Like @EattheWorldLA said, you can just walk up. They take a decent amount of time after ordering, so calling ahead or ordering first if banging with another place is advised.

And I ate my food right there, they have tables set up outside and we were literally the only people outside under the tent at the time. Not sure how legal it is, but it felt safe so we decided to eat there.

I would have eaten my pizza there, but was so stuffed from the banh xeo and sausage that I decided it would reheat well at home.

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Thanks @Chowseeker1999! That is a natural bang bang.

Any intel on the boba spot inside? The lines are pretty long and they have popcorn chicken.

Gonna grab some ramen next time I’m there.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold