Starting Your Day with an Elevated Vietnamese Breakfast - Nep Cafe [Thoughts + Pics]

Breakfast is oftentimes the overlooked meal. For weekdays, many folks are so busy waking up, getting ready for work or school, they barely have time to eat anything before they run out of time. Or on weekends, it’s easy to sleep in (missing Breakfast).

At least that’s my excuse for not knowing more about Breakfast specialists around town like Nep Cafe. :sweat_smile:

Nep Cafe is a newish Vietnamese Breakfast specialist, which sounded pretty unique. While all dining was outdoors, walking up to the original restaurant space (indoors), it looks like a super stylish, modern eatery, more trendy than old-school.

During our first visit, there was a huge line of people (socially distanced), and we were told it was a 2 hour wait(!) for an outdoor table. :open_mouth: So we opted for To-Go instead.

Xoi Man (Sticky Rice, Cha Lua, Pate, Quail Egg, Lap Xuong, Pork Floss):

The Xoi Man at Nep Cafe was a fun way to sample little bites of various diverse flavors, a bit of the Egg, some Pork Floss, the nicely cooked Marinated Quail Eggs. The Lap Xuong reminded me of a Taiwanese Pork Sausage, lightly sweet & savory, and the Pate on top of the Sticky Rice was the star, creamy and delicious. :slight_smile:

Banh Mi Chao - Filet Mignon (Filet Mignon, Eggs, Cha Lua, Pate, Tomatoes, Truffle Peppercorn Sauce, Swiss Cheese):

The Filet Mignon was cooked a perfect medium rare, which says a lot about the attention to detail at Nep Cafe, however the cut of meat itself was underwhelming. There were a few pieces that had some gristle running through it, so that was off-putting, but otherwise, the other bites were tender and the Truffle Peppercorn Sauce was a nice pairing.

Bone Marrow Cavatelli (Housemade Cavatelli Pasta, “Thit Nuong”, Roasted Bone Marrow):

This felt like some of the more fusion aspects of Nep Cafe, which, to be fair, never billed itself as “traditional”. Still their Housemade Cavatelli Pasta had a good toothsome quality, and enough density and chew, but still tender, and the Bone Marrow was delicious. :blush:

Coffee Flan:

Silky, smooth, with a creamy quality and nice infusion of Coffee flavor. A great finish for our first meal here.

2nd Visit:

I love the artistic renderings of old-school life in Vietnam. This time we were able to put our name down for a table and get there early enough (only a 25 min wait).

(Complementary) House-Roasted Peanuts:

Wonderful spicing on these, fragrant, fresh-roasted Peanuts.

Lychee Ice Tea:

Their Lychee Ice Tea was tropical, sweet (but not overly so) and refreshing, tasting of real Lychee Fruit flavor (instead of the powdered flavor packs).

Banh Mi Pate (Hai Phong Style Pate, Vietnamese Mayo, Pickles):


Their Banh Mi Pate was presented deconstructed but beautifully plated. The Housemade Pate was the highlight, rich, porcine, and savory. :slight_smile:

Banh Mi Chao - Filet Mignon (Filet Mignon, Eggs, Cha Lua, Pate, Tomatoes, Truffle Peppercorn Sauce, Swiss Cheese):

There is a difference between dining in and getting takeout, as their Banh Mi Chao this 2nd time around was much improved. Arriving on a searing hot iron skillet, the overall enjoyment was much better since everything was piping hot and the Filet Mignon coated and cooking with the Truffle Peppercorn Sauce and the Sunny Side Up Egg being seared all together just had a great caramelization and confluence of flavors. :blush: The Filet Mignon was also more tender this time, with no gristle issues.

Crab Benedict (Toast, Cha Lua, Lump Crab, Sautéed Spinach, Sous Vide Egg, Hoisin Hollandaise):

This was delicious: Perfectly cooked Sous Vide Egg, luscious, eggy, silky Hollandaise with just a touch of Hoisin Sauce (that didn’t overpower it), with their Cha Lua and Lump Crab Meat.

Cafe Sua Da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee):

Their Cafe Sua Da was stylish and delicious! A balanced Coffee flavor, Cinnamon and a light creaminess. :blush:

Xoi Man (Sticky Rice, Cha Lua, Pate, Quail Egg, Lap Xuong, Pork Floss):

While all of the ingredients and taste were the same, there is something to be said with eating with your eyes, which definitely adds to the appeal of a meal. For this 2nd time trying it their Xoi Man was beautifully presented, but simple and rustic, and all of the little bites were brighter and more enjoyable this time around. :slight_smile:

But the highlight might very well be their:

Mam Ruoc (Housemade Fermented Shrimp & Pork Paste):

Their Mam Ruoc (Housemade Fermented Shrimp & Pork Paste) was the embodiment of Umami! Deeply crave-worthy, mouth-watering and full of flavor. It made every bite of the Xoi Man that much better! So good! :heart:

The Dao (Potato Espuma, Sous Vide Egg, Truffle Oil):

Note: I am not a fan of Truffle Oil. The fake, synthetic facsimile of real Truffles usually just overpowers whatever it is being added to. However, Nep Cafe’s The Dao is wonderful, as the Truffle Oil is used judiciously, and the star is really the super light Potato Espuma and Sous Vide Egg. You take a piece of the toasty Bread and dip it in and scoop up some of the Egg & Potato cloud and you have happiness in one bite. :heart:

Coconut Ice Cream:

Their Housemade Coconut Ice Cream was light, airy, with a delicate Coconut flavor coming through, served on a bed of beautifully carved up Fruit (Mango, Lychee). :blush:

Nep Cafe turned out to be a pleasant surprise: A stylish, modern Vietnamese Breakfast specialist, serving dishes with a clear emphasis on presentation (and very Instagram-friendly). The crowds reflected its popularity with wait times of over 2 hours on weekends, with plenty of jet setters. But among the clientele were regular Vietnamese families, folks showing up in scrubs (before or after work) as well.

Thankfully their dishes have the substance to back up the style: Their Xoi Man with Sticky Rice and little bites of Vietnamese Sausage, Cha Lua, Egg, Pate and that absolutely delicious Housemade Mam Ruoc (Housemade Fermented Shrimp & Pork Paste). Their Dao (Potato Espuma, Sous Vide Egg, Truffle Oil) was also really tasty. The fact that they make everything in-house, like their own excellent Housemade Pate makes a difference and it shines through in their Banh Mi Pate.

As for how authentic or tasty this is compared to OG Vietnamese Breakfast classics, I’ll have to defer to our Vietnamese cuisine experts (like @attran99 @JeetKuneBao and others). :slight_smile: But from what we sampled so far on these visits, Nep Cafe is a pleasant way to start your morning.

Nep Cafe
10836 Warner Ave.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Tel: (714) 516-8121


I need to find more Vietnamese friends.

Filet mignon, bone marrow and eggs for breakfast? That’s like the trifecta of culinary nirvana for me.


Hmm, that doesn’t look like filet to me. Perhaps a cut of chuck blade massaged with a jaccard.


Hi @ipsedixit,

Yah, I didn’t think it looked like Filet either. But thankfully overall most of the dishes were tasty. :slight_smile:

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I forgot to tell you about this place! My Viet friends like it. Next time try the Hanoi egg coffee!! Pretty hard to find!

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