Monday, April 7, 2008

9 Courses of Fish at Asian Garden: San Jose, CA

Most people who frequently eat Vietnamese cuisine have had or are familiar with 7 Courses of Beef. Well have you heard of 9 Courses of Fish? My parents are fond of reading the Vietnamese and Chinese newspapers in San Jose to find new Asian food finds in the area. They read about this places that served up this unfamiliar set of dishes. Well we do eat a lot of Vietnamese food so the flavors aren't unfamiliar but having such a grouping was new. My parents tried out the place and immediately called me up to give their flattering review of their meal. The next time my siblings and I were able to make it home we visited this joint for lunch and have since made it a tradition to eat here at least once when we all gather together.

1st course: fish salad with sweet and sour fish sauce
This course was my favorite. It tasted light and fresh. I'm not familiar with how the fish is prepared but it tastes similar to being prepared ceviche style yet sweeter. It was tossed with a medley of fresh veggies, toasted peanuts and fried scallions... yum!

2nd course: fish salad rolls with peanut butter sauce
You can tell these were made to order or in small batches. The rice paper wrapping was incredibly soft and not too chewy. I really dislike mass-made spring rolls... the wrapper always gets too chewy. The fish was quite tender and there wasn't too much noodles or veggies so the fish could shine.


The slightly spicy peanut sauce that accompanied the fish spring rolls was a nice sauce. Good flavor and just the right consistency to get some good coverage on the rolls.


3rd- 6th courses: fried fish rolls, crispy fried fish, grilled fish sausage, grilled fish with Hawaiian tea leaves
Ok... I liked some of the items on this plate but in general I don't like the idea of this compilation like that of its beef counterpart. I really think its unfair to dump some fried/grilled/sausage-d pieces of meats and make them all different courses. After all, you're doing the same thing with all these courses: wrap with veggies, noodles and rice wrapper then dip in fish sauce and consume. My most favorite of this grouping was probably the crispy fried fish and least favorite was grilled fish sausage.

The fish sauce here is pretty good- a nice balance of sweet, sour, savory and spicy all in one sauce. My father being born and raised in Vietnam sure knows his fish sauce and seemed to not be able to get enough of it. He was using it constantly... even pouring it on the noodles straight up and just eating it like that.

7th course: grilled sizzling fish
This was perhaps my 2nd favorite course. It tasted like it was glazed with a light coat of sweet chili sauce and then grilled. I'm not too certain but it was still quite tasty. I liked to nab a piece with a small serving of noodles and a spoonful of the fish sauce from above.

8th course: fish with vinegar fondue
I didn't think this was the star of the dishes like in 7 courses of beef. It was ok but forgetful... I was still thinking about the grilled sizzling fish at this point. Cooking up some fish with ginger and pairing it with some noodles and fish sauce wasn't bad.

9th course: fish porridge
7 courses of beef
also ends this way and just like the numerous porridges I've tasted for that medley of dishes, I find this to be a little on the oily side. It tasted good and the rice wasn't clumpy at all... just too oily.

I haven't seen any other places that serve up something similar. If you've spotted another place please let me know.

Asian Garden
905 S. Bascom Ave.
San Jose, CA 95128
Su- Th: 10am-10pm
F-Sa: 10am-11pm


  1. hmmm, I still haven't had the 7 courses of beef... looks like quite a feast! I'm missing out on something for sure.

  2. This looks awesome! I bet it was great. Great pictures!

  3. FH,

    Make sure to bring a friend. I think most places will charge you for at least 2 people automatically. I really think the courses work out better in even numbers though they don't mention it.


    Thanks! It was mighty tasty.

  4. There's Nhu Y 8 Courses of Fish in Fountain Valley. Last time I ate there was a few years ago. $16 I think? I usually split a single order with a friend and that fills us both up.

  5. There's Nhu Y 8 Courses of Fish in Fountain Valley. Last time I ate there was a few years ago. $16 I think? I usually split a single order with a friend and that fills us both up.


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