Wednesday, January 4th 2012
As we got in the car and headed to lunch Meg said to me, "this place is so good you will mark the day in your calendar that you first ate at benley."
She was not kidding.
I'd gone to Long Beach to drop off some stuff for work so I called Meg, another BFF who loves to eat and hang out and listen to music. When we are very old ladies I guarantee that we will still be doing exactly that.
It was very last minute, but thankfully she was free for lunch and was excited to turn me on to this "great Vietnamese place".
That's one of the best things about a friend you've been snacking with for a very long time. When they say it's good, you don't even question, you just get in the car and say take me there.
We drove east on Wardlow, past El Dorado Park Estates - the Edward Scissor hands meets Happy Days - development where I grew up, and turned into a small shopping center anchored on the corner by Huff's Hut (not to be mistaken with Hoff's) where I used to chug Cherry Cokes after riding my bike all the way there.
It's only 2 city blocks from where I lived but when you're 7 things like that are much more of a big adventure.
This is the most eastern tip of Long Beach, rubbing up against the OC, snuggled between Los Alamitos, Cypress and Hawaiian Gardens.
As we pulled into the parking lot I was having flash backs of the day my sting ray bike with the sparkly purple banana seat was stolen because I had forgotten to lock it in my rush to get to the Cherry Coke.
I would soon have a much better memory to replace that with.
When we arrived at 12:30 the place was packed. It's a small, narrow space with tables on each side of narrow center aisle. The vibe is modern and clean and the waitress is a very friendly, cheerful and pretty red head.
It was about 80 degrees outside - that's January in Southern California - so I didn't feel like eating Pho, although they have a lunch special where you get a "taste" of Pho and half a sandwich. The taste is what I consider a normal sized bowl, but the regular Pho bowls are Papa Bear sized, so I guess it's all relative.
We ordered the spicy green beans, the cabbage and chicken salad with shallots and some veggie spring rolls. It was so good I ate it all before I even thought about taking a picture of it. Sigh. I really wish you could have seen it. We ate off the appetizer menu so the portions were smaller, but even sharing we were still full.
But we had room for dessert and when the lovely waitress offered us a taste of the roasted banana bread pudding we happily accepted. Meg ordered this amazing coffee which has chicory in it and comes with sweetened condensed milk on the side.
It was all very decadent and wonderful and I did mark the day in my calendar so I could write about it here.
Thanks Meg! You were right.
This was very yummy food that I will drive back to Long Beach to eat again and again.
benley: Vietnamese Kitchen
8191 E. Wardlow Rd.
Long Beach, CA 90808