Quan Nem Ninh Hoa
South Sacramento has lots of Vietnamese restaurants, but only one specializes in the regional cuisine of Ninh Hoa—a small coastal area of Vietnam. The standout here is nem nuong, the house special—a lavish feast that’s all of $19.95 for two people: skewered, charbroiled pork, pencil-slim crispy spring rolls, tons of fresh herbs and vegetables for rolling up in rice paper. Don’t overlook the tiny foil packets of pickled pork threaded with noodles and studded with peppercorns, chile pepper and half a garlic clove, making them tangy, hot and numbing. The other most popular dish is bun cha ca, a noodle soup with fish cakes. The 12-year-old restaurant’s setting is simple, but take a closer look at the vases on the tables, holding bamboo stalks: most of them have little fish swimming in them, a touch of charm.