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Nha Trang -- Centre or Baxter?

Simon Jul 10, 2006 09:42 PM

Hi...i want to try Nha Trang for the first time...is there any difference between the two locations?...

and less importantly, do they serve wine?

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  1. j
    jungirl RE: Simon Jul 10, 2006 09:57 PM

    i've never been to the one on centre, but the one on baxter is the one everyone always talks about on this board. i've been going there for 16 years

    1 Reply
    1. re: jungirl
      Simon RE: jungirl Jul 10, 2006 10:01 PM

      Thanks, jungirl...what are your favorite dishes there?

    2. j
      jungirl RE: Simon Jul 10, 2006 10:40 PM

      their pork chops over rice are to die for. they put it over broken rice and it soaks up all the yummy juices from the pork. they have more bbq flavor and thinner than most viet restaurants, and they are excellent. their cha gio (spring rolls) are also excellent, as is their soft shell crab, hollow vegetable, and pho. i've had friends argue they prefer the pho at pho grand, and that it is not nha trang's strong point. i agree pho grand is good, but i guess i grew up on nha trang. their bun (vermicelli noodles) with sliced spring rolls and pork chop is excellent, since it combines all the yummy dishes there into one. i would avoid the fried calamari, it is over done and so chewy your mouth starts to get tired. hope this helps!

      3 Replies
      1. re: jungirl
        Simon RE: jungirl Jul 10, 2006 10:46 PM

        excellent!...i'll get pork chops and spring rolls and hollow stem veggie...(i'm not a big pho guy so i wasn't planning on getting that anyway)...

        p.s. you said you grew up on nha trang: are you Vietnamese and/or a Chinatown native?

        p.p.s. do you know if they serve wine? (i usually like some cold wine w/ my Vietnamese food)

        1. re: Simon
          jungirl RE: Simon Jul 12, 2006 06:39 PM

          no, the restaurant opened up i think about 19 years ago, and i literally started going when i was in elementary school. same staff too! they still recognize me if i go with my mom. we used to drive in from jersey, and this was before vietnamese food was popularized. we just really liked the food. :)

          1. re: jungirl
            Simon RE: jungirl Jul 12, 2006 08:33 PM

            good story...i'm going there this week...

      2. h
        huzzahhuzzah RE: Simon Jul 11, 2006 02:54 AM

        I have had the pho at both numerous times, and have not found any noticeabale differences. Unfortunately I haven't tried the pork chops, though. That might be lunch tomorrow.

        1 Reply
        1. re: huzzahhuzzah
          ChrisZ RE: huzzahhuzzah Jul 11, 2006 01:17 PM

          Agreed, the food is pretty much the same at both.

        2. guttergourmet RE: Simon Jul 11, 2006 01:27 PM

          The frogs' legs are the best I've had (including La Grenouille's)!

          1. d
            devil RE: Simon Jul 11, 2006 01:49 PM

            I think both are pretty close to each other. I used to go to the Baxter one, but started to go the the Centre one lately. The pho is good, but it's their non-pho dishes that excel.

            2 Replies
            1. re: devil
              Pan RE: devil Jul 11, 2006 05:39 PM

              devil, please recommend some specific dishes or link to a post where you did previously. Thanks.

              1. re: Pan
                devil RE: Pan Jul 12, 2006 05:18 AM

                Hi Pan. We have enjoyed among other things: lobster, soft shelled crabs, "bo luc lac", sauted rau muong (a veggie like watercress), fried fish, grilled chicken and grilled pork, calamari (the crispy one as well as the sauted one), and spring rolls.

            2. d
              devil RE: Simon Jul 11, 2006 01:49 PM

              Oh, they do have wine.

              1. p
                pkallan RE: Simon Jul 21, 2006 01:07 AM

                Okay, so I finally got myself down to Nha Trang after reading all the great reviews here and everywhere about its food and frankly, I wasn't all that impressed. Maybe it was what I ordered (bun cha gio - rice vermicelli salad with Vietnamese spring rolls). The spring rolls were probably the best I have ever had, but honestly, the veggies on the salad were a bit skimpy and the dressing was just too sweet. I like my dressing more pungent with a pronounced fish sauce/garlic/lime juice flavor, like nuoc cham itself. The dressing I was served with my bun was definitely less flavorful and had a one dimensional quality to it (sweet). I tried jazzing it up with some Sripracha and fish sauce at the table, but it didn't help.

                I am a recent West Coast/Bay Area transplant where we have a dearth of good Vietnamese restaurants in the SF area as well as in San Jose, so maybe this is an unfair comparison, but I was expecting stellar bun at Nha Trang and was disappointed. This should be the simplest of dishes for a Vietnamese restaurant, so I was bewildered about it. I usually encounter lots of garnishes with this dish, like mung bean sprouts, fried shallots & peanuts, but with the dish that I got, these were conspiciously missing. Maybe I should have ordered the grilled porkchop like everyone suggested here instead.

                I also ordered the chicken with chili & lemongrass (Ca Xao Sa Ot - sorry I don't know how to add the accents for proper pronunciation) hoping that maybe I just picked the wrong category of dishes to judge Nha Trang, but that wasn't all that either. It's not bad flavor-wise, but nothing spectacular to keep me coming back and ordering it again and again.

                So is Nha Trang strictly a place for some tried & true dishes and not one that excels across the board?

                3 Replies
                1. re: pkallan
                  keith RE: pkallan Jul 21, 2006 02:26 PM

                  I think you're going to come up short across the board if you're trying to compare New York vietnamese to Bay Area Vietnamese. There's simply more superlative Asian food in the Bay Area due to the large number vietnamese there (by the way, the word that you used, "dearth," means scarcity. There is certainly not a scarcity of Vietnamese restaurants in the San Fran area).

                  It does sound, however, as though your Bun was slightly atypical of what I've usually received at Nha Trang. While I agree with you that their sauce is not the best, I've always gotten ample vegetables, peanuts, sprouts, herbs on it. It's generally one of the better versions I've had in New York.

                  1. re: pkallan
                    kvn RE: pkallan Jul 21, 2006 04:01 PM

                    pkallan, I do think Nha Trang handles some dishes very well,
                    but others are very average. Check the boards for new topic
                    "best vietnamese"

                    1. re: pkallan
                      nerdgoggles RE: pkallan Mar 8, 2007 01:48 PM

                      Not to be a pain in the ass, but I think you mean "plethora" or "glorious abundance," not "dearth," which means lack. Sorry to be an annoyance.

                    2. k
                      kvn RE: Simon Jul 21, 2006 03:59 PM

                      Go to Baxter, NOT Centre.
                      I work around the corner, and used to eat at Centre or get take out, because it's less crowded, but it's no where as good as Baxter.

                      1. p
                        pkallan RE: Simon Jul 24, 2006 02:34 AM

                        Thanks keith for the correction & feedback. I'll give Nha Trang's bun another try, perhaps at their sister location on Baxter St and see if the results are not more positive.

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