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July 6, 2010 > Restaurant Review: La Sen is a Vietnamese winner

Restaurant Review: La Sen is a Vietnamese winner

By Shavon Walker

In a corridor between Game Stop and Target in the Fremont Hub, La Sen's beautiful exterior is a contradiction to its surroundings. A lovely outside patio matches the decor inside the restaurant. Neat and clean, gleaming wood tables await patrons. The area is small and has a minimalist look, and it works well. Even the bathroom was a pleasure to use - sanitary and well tended.

Nham, La Sen's manager, helped serve our little group of three. He told me a bit more about the history of La Sen. His mother, Sen, came to the United States to begin a new life with her family. She had to overcome a language barrier and isolation, but soon she and her husband found work at a Vietnamese restaurant. They were so good at their jobs, they became the owners. With this success, the family began to branch out. Nham says, "This restaurant [La Sen] has been around for about six months. Our family has quite a few other restaurants so we aren't new to the industry."

Nham, his brother Vu and business partner Kevin greet customers and handle orders. The restaurant is a family affair so behind the scenes, Nham and Vu's parents and friends take care of the kitchen. Nham's sister contributes ideas and business advice.

Our iced teas and coconut juice came very quickly and we moved on to the food. I ordered a calamari appetizer and was surprised by its pleasant, crisp texture - the calamari wasn't rubbery at all. It was cooked perfectly, enhanced by a spicy mayonnaise sauce.

The lemongrass chicken rice plate came highly recommended. "It's one of our most popular dishes," Nham pointed out. It came with a good sized portion of rice, a few fresh cucumber and tomato slices, and some wonderful mixed greens with a very, very light dressing... delicious! The chicken had a definite lemongrass taste, enhanced by basil and green onions. It was a wonderful dish.

My husband ordered beef tripe, tendon and brisket Pho (Pho #7). The broth wasn't overly salty, a welcome relief from other restaurants where heavy use of salt is standard. The tripe, tendon and brisket were all delicious and well cooked. Even the extras were good-basil served in a small vase with water along with crunchy and delicious bean sprouts.

Our dining companion decided to order the grilled pork chop rice plate. This was another surprise; usually thin cut pork chops are tough, but these were far from it. They were well seasoned and tender with a delicious smoky flavor. Both chops and chicken entrees came with soup which was very tasty.

If you're in the neighborhood or shopping at the Hub, La Sen is a wise choice for great food, fast service and filling meals. Only one of our group was able to finish their meal so for us, La Sen was not only a great place for dinner, but provided an amazing lunch the next day. I can't think of a better way to double my pleasure. Be sure to check them out on Twitter (LaSen82) and Facebook.

Reviewed on 6/15/2010

La Sen Restaurant
181 Fremont Hub Courtyard, Fremont
(510) 494-8300.

Twitter: LaSen82
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ and search for "La Sen"

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