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Vietnamese in St. Louis

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Last time that I was in St. Louis, I had some great Vietnamese food at a little hole in the wall called Truc Lam (on Gravois, a few blocks off Grand). What it lacked in ambiance, it made up for in deliciousness. Is it still around and still good? Are there any other Vietnamese places that 'hounds recommend?

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  1. According to SauceMagazine.com, Truc Lam is still open for business. I've never been there, so can't answer your question about how good it is.

    My personal favorite would be Banh Mi So 1 on S. Grand. Service can be slow but the food is good. As the name of the place suggests you can get excellent Banh Mi sandwiches. I recommend #32 with chicken, double meat for $5. The menu doesn't mention chicken for the #32 but Thomas will get it for you.

    EG

    1. Two other options on Grand Ave. near Arsenal are Pho Grand and the Mekong Delta. Both serve good Vietnamese food at very reasonable prices.

      1. I still like Mai Lees on Delmar at 170- such good coconut chicken!

        1. second the Banh Mi So rec. Definately the best Vietnamese food in town. Just make sure you're not in a hurry, this is a husband and wife place; she cooks and he waits (and deliberately, to say the least). However, the food is fantastic. I would recommend asking the husband for recommendations - he always has an opinion and in my experience, he's spot on!

          1 Reply
          1. re: bab

            Do I hear a third for Banh Mi So? Yes! Go there often and am always impressed. From the great sandwhiches to the huge, noodle laden bowls of soup to the shrimp curry, I love it all. Also, the sign that says best springrolls in town isn't kidding.

          2. Banh Mi So is easily our favorite, too! Everything is so fresh and definitely made to order. You're right; you don't want to go there if you're in a hurry, but it's definitely worth the wait. From the soups to the banh mi sandwiches to the spring rolls, it's all great!

            Although we haven't tried Truc Lam, though I have wanted to stop by a time or two, but it's hard to go somewhere else other than Banh Mi So #1.

            1. Yet another Banh Mi So endorsement. Thomas, the owner, is very interesting to speak with and very welcoming. I actually haven't found it to be overly slow and much prefer the pace there to the incredibly rushed in-and-out approach of Pho Grand, which is my second favorite Vietnamese. I have to give a major thumbs down to Mai Lee - I think it's mediocre at very best and really not worth a visit.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Wayno

                Can you give me a better description than South Grand? Like a cross street, east or west side of the street etc.

                Thanks.

                1. re: Phaedrus

                  Far South Grand at Gasconade (about two blocks N of Meramec). On west side of street across from Mar's BBQ.

              2. Thanks so much for the recommendations! I live very far from any Vietnamese food now, so I can't wait to reactivate the pho tasting part of my brain (even if it feels slightly wrong to eat it in the hot and humid STL summer).

                I've never checked out Bahn Mi So--I erroneously assumed that it was strictly Bahn Mi like the places that we had in DC when I lived there. I'll be sure to go this time. I really did like the grilled meats and pho at Truc Lam when I went last year. I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't put off by the moderately seedy atmosphere (assuming it hasn't gone downhill since).

                And since I have your attention... Any favorites near the city museum downtown? I've been to the Schlafly's brewery. What else is going on down there these days?

                I live in Spain now and will be "home" visiting family for a week, so I would be interested in any other recommendations but tapas and seafood--the more americano, the better. Ah, and any favorite corned beef sandwiches? I grew up mostly in STL, so I'm prone to nostalgia... (Do I even need to say that a stop at White Castle will fulfill a guilty pleasure?)

                1. First, butterfly, I found your Spain posts very helpful when planning a trip last year. Thank you!

                  If you want good American food, Iron Barley is excellent, neat atmosphere and cheap. It's just off 55 at Virgina and Bates. I dream about their ham and cheese sandwich.

                  Downtown if you want to spend a lot, The American Place is excellent. For lunch (and dinner too), 10th Street Italian (10th just south of Washington) makes the world's most addictive meatball subs, and also excellent pasta and other sandwiches. The Tap Room (where you've been) is still good.

                  Square One in Lafayette Square has excellent beer, decent food (I like the brat), and a great patio. 1111 Mississippi has very good food (also Lafayette Square). There's a Persian place on South Grand that is excellent, the RFT reviewed it within the past year. And for super delicious (non-St Louis style) pizza that will clog your arteries faster than you can blink, get the Chicago style pizza at Black Thorn Pub on Wyoming just west of S. Grand. Be ready to wait though, it takes an hour to bake.

                  I hope that you have a great visit!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jumpingjack

                    What is more American than Crown Candy for shakes and a BLT?

                    Delmonico's or Sweetie Pies for soul food. South City Diner for diner fare.

                    I do love Iron Barley's and Square One.

                    Thanks for the directions Extreme Glow.

                  2. Oh, yes, these are just the suggestions that I was looking for--thanks! And Lafayette Square--that was one of my stomping grounds as a young punk and quasi-delinquent in the late eighties... There are dining possibilities there now?! How times change!

                    1. I have been eating Vietnamese for over 20 years in st. Louis. Last night I went to Bahn Mi So based on the recomendations from this board. It was one of the worst meals I have ever eaten. The quality and selection were poor. The spring rolls were over priced and gummy. The beef dishes were under flavored and scant in portions. You might not like Mai Lee but the food is 100X better. Lee Tran opened the first Vietnamese restarant in St. Louis 20 years ago. Just stop there anytime and notice the crowds. last night 5 people were in the restarant. It was warm and slow. I do not understand what impressed you about the food. I will continue to go back to Mai lee but the restaurant was closed for vacation and wanted to try something new. I learned a lesson

                      1. Mai Lee's Vietnamese Sandwich is amazingly delicious.

                        Has anyone been to Four Seasons on Grand? I stopped in randomly the other day and was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.

                        1. I like Lemon Grass on Grand even better than Four Seasons (but not better than Banh Mi So #1). Sorry, that's still my favorite. I'm sorry that you did not enjoy your food there, rothdan.

                          1. I will 2nd the mention for Lemongrass. That is the only Vietnamese on Grand that I would return for a meal. Mai Lee is still the class of the group for the selection and freshness. I rather eat at a busy restaurant than the others. At Mai Lee try the Pho, the crepe, fresh and crispy egg rolls, the salty shrimp,the curry dishes.

                            1. Pho Grand is ALWAYS busy, one of the busiest restaurants I've ever seen, but for that reason, I don't like to frequent it, as it's always a rush-rush feeling. I got the same feeling from Mai Lee. Since you like busy places like Mai Lee, do you like Pho Grand as well?

                              1. Pho Grand is OK , it has a large following , I think the low prices help. Last week I tried Monsoom on Manchester east of Mason because Mai Lee was closed because of power outage. I was pleasantly surprised but more expensive. For the depth and quality Mai Lee is my favorite. I'm partial because they have become part family because I have been going for close to 20 years.