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Another lousy Vietnamese meal

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Had a distressingly lousy lunch here today - just the latest in a series of acceptable to poor Vietnamese meals I've had in New York. I had been craving deep fried spring rolls and lemon grass chicken for weeks, so that's what I ordered. The spring rolls were mediocre - six rather dry and tasteless pieces (two rolls each cut into three) with the usual lettuce and basil accompaniments. The lemon grass chicken was so bad I didn't eat it. It was over-salty and tasted of soy sauce; more like a chicken with black bean sauce than a Vietnamese dish. I've eaten at many Lower Manhattan Vietnamese restaurants and none of them have been on par with the Minneapolis Vietnamese restaurants I grew up with and still go back to a couple of times a year. I've found wonderful Thai, Korean, and Szechuan food here, but no Vietnamese. Can anyone tell me where I should be going?

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  1. You never named the restaurant where you had this disappointing meal.

    I like Bao Noodles. I've always found the food to be well-prepared and very tasty. My favorites are the spring rolls (always crisp and never greasy), the green papaya salad, and the spicy beef stew. I've had chicken, but I can't remember if it was with lemongrass or lime. Whichever, it was good. Service is fine, and the ambiance is pleasant. N.B. Cash only.

    Link: http://www.baonoodles.com

    4 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Did you try that place that used to be called Vietnam on Doyers Street? You go downstairs...I also like Pho Grand, used to LOVE Nam Phuong but it closed. I'm not crazy picky but I do agree tha L'Annam sucks. Like Saigon Grill, and heard recently that Monsoon was good. Generally I think that Chinatown is the way to go.

      1. re: mmm

        yes, i like Doyers Vietnam Restaurant too

      2. re: RGR

        Pho Bang on Mott is consitently good- the spring rolls are great, the pho is excellent, and the grilled pork on vermicelli is also solid. I have been going here for 20 years and am always satisfied.

        1. re: jer

          I like Pho Bang, too. Sadly, vietnamese is not a strength of this city.

      3. Try TigerLand down in the East Village. They are moreso a thai/viet but very interesting dishes there. not sure if they are open for lunch yet though. give it a try....see for yourself....

        1. There are no really good Vietnamese restaurants in Manhattan. There just isn't enough of a community to support the real thing. Maybe Sunset Park but I haven't visited yet. Try the outerborough boards.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Homer J

            That is so not true. Pho Tu Do and Nha Trang and Cong Ly are all pretty good.

            1. re: devil

              What part isn't true? That there aren't any really good Viet restaurants, you name 3 'pretty good' ones or that there isn't a large Viet community in NYC?

              I agree that that Cong Ly is pretty good.

              1. re: Homer J

                BAO is pretty tasty, worth a try.

                i just went to a banh mi place in chinatown today, i forget the name, but it's on mulberry above bayard, mid-block/east side. i had never tried it before, the meatball sandwich is good so far. so is the "khoai mi dau nuong," a sweet yucca pancake dessert treat.

                  1. re: Polecat

                    yes, pretty sure that was it. i got the standard and the meatball. they were not quite as good as my go-to banh mi so no 1 on broome, but i enjoyed them. the yucca pancake was an excellent treat.

              2. re: devil

                I've only tried the pho at Nha Trang but found it to be lacking.

            2. Have you tried Nha Trang? This is where a Vietnamese friend took me when I asked her if there was any good Vietnamese in Manhattan.

              I also recommend Bao Noodles.

              Link: http://newyork.citysearch.com/profile...

              1. The best Vietnamese joints in NYC are in Bklyn, particularly Pho Hoi on Ave U (betw. Ocean Ave and E.19th St). Pho-fanatic that I am, I've tried most of the Vietnamese restaurants in NYC, and this place is easily the best of the bunch. They also have a sister restaurant in another part of Bklyn on 86th Street, which I believe someone else below recommended. The 86th St one was written up in the NY Times a couple of yrs ago.

                If you insist on Manhattan, I'd go with Pho Tu Do on Bowery (off of Grand St...look for the Statue of Liberty on the awning). They're more than reliable. There used to be others in Chinatown that were good (like Nha Trang and New Pasteur), but most have gone noticeably downhill.

                Hope this helps. Happy Chowing.

                7 Replies
                1. re: MattyMatt

                  We have always liked Pho Tu Do on Bowery too. The pho and various grilled meat/noodle specialties are excellent and we have had other good things over the years (but never lemongrass chicken).

                  Im assuming the OP was eating Vietnamese uptown and not in any of the chinatowns. big mistake. Not that every Chinatown Vietnamese is great by any means but the chance of getting better food is so much higher.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    I agree, the Chinatown ones are not out of this world but at least serviceably authentic and tasty, whereas the uptown ones are a lousy excuse for Vietnamese. I am so tired of the Saigon Grill hype in particular. Ironically I had much better Vietnamese when I was stuck in otherwise culinarily barren Richmond, Virginia than in NYC.

                    1. re: J

                      Years ago, I had quite a memorable Vietnamese meal in the VA suburbs just outside DC. One standout was the whole crabs with chili and garlic.

                      1. re: Chorus Girl

                        Actually, Northern VA is pretty good for Viet food. I was just there, I should have eaten some :(

                  2. re: MattyMatt

                    i agree about pho hoai being excellent. its sister restaurant, pho tay ho (in the vicinity of bensonhurst), is also very good, though i haven't been there in a while.

                    apparently, they also have a third location, called nha trang palace, on 8th ave near 60th street in sunset park. i'm wondering if anyone here has been there and can report on the food?

                    1. re: surly

                      i should clarify that, as far as i know, this nha trang palace in sunset park, brooklyn has absolutely no relation to the nha trangs in manhattan's chinatown (which is a good thing, i would assume).

                      anyhow, i'm wondering again what people think about this place, considering the good food at its siblings, pho hoai and pho tay ho.

                      1. re: surly

                        A bit late but what the hell. Nha Trang Palace.
                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/406396

                        I've been back 3 times since - the pho is excellent.