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Best Asian in Greater Lowell?

MC Slim JB Aug 15, 2006 07:37 PM

I know of a few places already: Phien's, Pho 88, Red Rose (from many years ago). Any others among your favorites? I'm most interested in Southeast Asian (Lao, Viet, Cambodian, Thai), but would welcome other recs. Any worthy banh mi joints?

  1. Infomaniac Aug 15, 2006 07:51 PM

    There is a Southeast Asian place on Market Street that's pretty good. I think it's called Southeast Asian Restaurant.
    A couple places on Westford Street, Nam Viet is one, the names are escaping me right now., so hopefully someone else can chime in. Also a Pho place on Middlesex Street (Pho DeLat maybe). Can't help with the banh mi, as I'm just becoming familiar with this cuisine.

    1. g
      graciesquare Aug 15, 2006 08:57 PM

      Southeast Asian Restaurant has a website:

      It offers Lao, Viet, Cambodian, Thai, probably other SE Asian food as well. I've found the food to be really good but the service can be slow at times &, especially if you're there with a large group, you may not get what you think you ordered.

      Viet-Thai is around the corner on Merrimack St, in the same building as George's Fabrics. It's smaller with no ambience to speak of, but the food is good & the prices very low.

      I prefer Pho 88 to Pho Dalat.

      1. applehome Aug 15, 2006 09:35 PM

        Thanh Thanh on Chelmsford St. is wonderful Vietnamese - some items better than Pho 88 (1 block from the Connector - Plain St. exit, across from the Walgreen's).

        Apsara is decent Cambodian. (On Middlesex by the Rourke bridge)

        Here's an old post of mine about Banh Mi in Lowell (haven't verified recently):


        Also, wanted to add that the new and expanded Battambang market on Church Street is a tremendous resource for all things south-east asian. They have a limited amount of cooked goods, but these include whole-fried catfish and some decent spring rolls. Great fresh vegetables, frozen foods selection, some fresh fish, and butcher (great prices on beef shank), and every kind of noodle (dried) you could think of.

        1 Reply
        1. re: applehome
          lar3ry Mar 9, 2007 03:54 AM

          Thanh Thanh is no longer in business, at least under that name.

          There is another Vietnamese restaurant at that site now. The Pho is as good as before, and the new menu has Bun Bo Hue, one of my favorite soup recipes of all time.

        2. Infomaniac Aug 16, 2006 02:16 PM

          Thanks for these updates and links.

          1. i
            IreneC Aug 16, 2006 03:54 PM

            If Greater Lowell includes Chelmsford and Westford:
            Yoong Tong II (Thai) in Chelmsford"s Central Square, tucked away in a little strip mall next to Domino's Pizza
            Thai Jasmine on Littleton Rd. (Rt. 110) in a shopping center that also has India Palace, across from the Elks Club
            Garlic Bistro, the oldest Thai restaurant in Chelmsford, at Drum Hill: http://www.garlicbistro.com/
            Bamboo in Westford
            Also in Lowell, Senmonorom (Cambodian) on Middlesex St., in the strip mall with the Family Dollar and US Post Office. On Westford St. are Khemara and Phnom Penh.
            And if you include Japanese in your list, Sakura on Summer St. in Chelmsford Center.
            As for banh mi, I noticed a new Vietmanese Sandwich shop on Merrimack St. in Lowell just last week. Don't know the name and haven't tried it yet. Maybe someone else can help. I generally go to one of the carry-outs on Branch street, not far from Red Rose.

            1. d
              Dinsdale45 Mar 8, 2007 09:53 AM

              I found Yoong Tong II to be ridiculously expensive, with dishes 4-6 dollars more than most Lowell Asian restaurants. I asked the owner why the Basil Chicken entree cost $13 and I was told that they used all white meat. Ahhh. Now I understand.

              1. l
                lexpatti Mar 9, 2007 04:58 AM

                We love Southeast Asian on Market St. (favorite) we like the menu better then the buffet but can't beat that buffet price, Than Than was on our list too (so sorry to hear, have to hit that new one). We hit Pho 88 often too. Another one just on the back side of Southeast Asian (I think that is Merrimack St. - across from the courthouse) - we like that too.

                Has anyone tried that melting pot place - maybe "Mango Melting Pot" on Merrimack. We did twice and liked it alot - we had never done that pot cooking before so it was a nice experience.

                Another new one in Dracut (just across from Enterprise Bank strip mall) on Lakeview Ave. - only went once but we loved it.

                14 Replies
                1. re: lexpatti
                  raddoc Jul 30, 2007 08:46 AM

                  The one that replaced Than Than is Pho Mi Mi, and is pretty good, and serves vietnamese versions of Chinese dishes as well! Interesting, but I'm sticking to the Viet menu. I think it's pretty comparable to Pho 88, though I like the intimate Pho 88 room better.
                  Senmonorom is very good Cambodian, have you tried it yet, Slim?

                  1. re: raddoc
                    hargau Jul 30, 2007 09:22 AM

                    Have you been to pho 88 lately? No longer as intimate as they expanded to about 3-4x the size. We go almost every week. Love it

                    1. re: hargau
                      raddoc Jul 30, 2007 10:27 AM

                      Not for a few months. Will have to try the new space. Have you tried Pho Mi Mi? Just around the corner on Middlesex Road (turn right after Market Basket, about 1/2 a mile or less on the left)

                      1. re: raddoc
                        hargau Jul 30, 2007 10:45 AM

                        no i have not. Do they have bubble tea? I love a bubble tea for dessert at pho 88! Couple weeks ago we went back to the old vietamese noodle house on main st in Nashua and found that the broth is nicer there then at pho 88. Pho 88 uses a lot of msg/salt, makes it tough to finish a bowl.

                        1. re: hargau
                          hargau Jul 30, 2007 10:48 AM

                          Also what about this place? Is this the same place your thinking of? http://www.phodalat.com/ The menu is just about EXACTLY Pho88's so i suspect the same owners

                          1. re: hargau
                            raddoc Jul 30, 2007 10:56 AM

                            It IS the same owners, and you're right, same menu, but IMO, not as good as Pho 88, and not Pho Mi Mi, which is down Middlesex Road, closer to the Rourke Bridge.
                            Hargau, I'll have to check on the bubble tea. never tried it.

                            1. re: raddoc
                              hargau Jul 30, 2007 11:34 AM

                              ok i will have to find the pho mi mi place. So your saying if i take a left out of pho 88 towards the rotary i then take a right and i will see it?

                              1. re: hargau
                                raddoc Jul 30, 2007 12:03 PM

                                No, a right out of Pho 88, then thru two lights, then right just before the Rourke Bridge. About 1/4- 1/2 mile on your left.

                                1. re: raddoc
                                  raddoc Jul 30, 2007 12:06 PM

                                  Here, I haven't tried this yet.

                                  Pho MI MI
                                  1733 Middlesex St, Lowell, MA 01851

                                  1. re: raddoc
                                    raddoc Jul 30, 2007 12:08 PM

                                    Try this as well.

                                    Senmonorom Restaurant
                                    1671 Middlesex St, Lowell, MA 01851

                                    1. re: raddoc
                                      hargau Aug 4, 2007 08:02 AM

                                      Well we tried it and were not impressed. Drove by Pho 88 and it was packed. Went to Pho MiMi and there was ONE other table with people. This was prime friday night dinner time. In the time we were there about 3 other tables of people came in, all seemed to know them.

                                      Room is more of a bar then a restaurant. Tv's blaring, large bar, disco lights! Thankfully we got out before the DJ at 9 started.

                                      Fried egg roll were ok, gf got some sort of spicy pho dish that came out as a congealed bowl of glop with some totally raw meat in it. Problem was there wasnt enough liquid or heat to cook the meat as it does in normal pho, so it just sat there totally raw. After a few bites we sent that one back.

                                      Normal pho was decent. My gf found 1-2 bugs in hers! We didnt say anything about it though. We figured they were from the mint leaves maybe

                                      They do have bubble tea which was tasty. Definately was the highlite.

                                      Waitress was friendly and didnt charge us for the 1st dish which was nice.

                                      I think we will be sticking with Pho 88 though.

                                      1. re: hargau
                                        raddoc Aug 4, 2007 10:02 AM

                                        Sorry the experience wasn't good. Try driving past to Senmonorom sometime. The Cambodian food is good, the rooms kind of a cave, though, with Cambodian Kareoke running all the time.

                                        1. re: hargau
                                          rcianci Aug 4, 2007 06:56 PM

                                          That's sounds like a description of Apsara. So Apsara is gone? It's been a while since I've been but if that's true that's too bad. I really liked that place.

                                          1. re: rcianci
                                            applehome Aug 8, 2007 10:08 PM

                                            Pho Mi Mi is where Aspara used to be - but they still have the sign that says fried catfish. Pho Da Lat now has 2 places, where they were on Middlesex, and they took over Thanh Thanh. Everybody is gone at the Chelmsford St. location (old Thanh Thanh) except the chef - he's the same, so the items that are still on the menu are the same (like the combination salad that I liked so much). Maybe Pho Mi Mi kept the same kitchen staff as Aspara.

                    2. f
                      foodperv Aug 5, 2007 06:39 AM

                      there was an article in the bosotn globe fairly recently (last 6 months)
                      it said pho 88 was the best over all in the state i must agree ( in the over all )what i mean by this is, yes you can go to others and find a dish at this place and a dish at that place that is better.
                      and those bowls of soup oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: foodperv
                        lexpatti Aug 5, 2007 07:27 PM

                        We love Pho 88 too, go often but we go back and forth between it and South East Asian on Market Str. Love the expanded menu at Pho 88, we had a business close by and ate there very often. There is also a new (fairly new one) in Dracut (might be Lowell) on Lakeview Ave. across from Enterprise Bank plaza. Only went once, liked it alot but want to try other items. I still love the garden rolls (guo quoin) (sp?) at SouthEast Asian the best!!!!!

                        1. re: lexpatti
                          applehome Aug 7, 2007 11:34 AM

                          I think Phien's Kitchen cooks circles around SEA these days. Daovone's expanded menu is really quite extensive - and certain dishes are really outstanding, like the larb. SEA has seen better days. I'll have to look for that place in Dracut.

                          1. re: applehome
                            Aromatherapy Aug 7, 2007 12:14 PM

                            Expanded menu? How expanded? Recs? I must get back there one of these days.

                            1. re: Aromatherapy
                              applehome Aug 8, 2007 10:01 PM

                              I just did take-out tonight - took a paper menu with me but seem to have lost it - I'll scan it and post it as soon as I find it - probably in the car...

                              We had the larb and the tongue, as well as the pork spring rolls and some sticky rice. The tongue is really amazing. I'm used to Mexican and Jewish - both are braised, slow cooked and provide tender textures. This is thin sliced raw, lightly grilled - much of it pretty much raw in the middle. It's very chewy and just completely delicious - a completely different texture.. The larb is the best I've ever had - spicy, juicy... almost shredded beef, but really thin sliced and chopped, with mint and lots of garlic.

                            2. re: applehome
                              lexpatti Aug 9, 2007 07:03 PM

                              Applehome, what is phien's kitchen and what is daovone's - those two I don't recognize.

                              1. re: lexpatti
                                raddoc Aug 10, 2007 05:25 AM

                                Phien's kitchen is a Laotian restaurant on Westford St. Small place, family run, only open Wednesday thru Sunday. I don't know about daovone's.

                                1. re: lexpatti
                                  applehome Aug 10, 2007 10:18 PM

                                  Here's a link from a couple of years ago:


                                  The Lowell Sun article linked in that thread is now archived and costs $2.95. See link below.

                                  There was also a mention of Phien’s Kichen in this year’s June issue of Yankee magazine. In fact, it was the only Lowell area restaurant to get a paragraph in their guide.

                                  Daovone Nokham is Phien Nokham's daughter. She graduated from Newbury and cooked at several places around the area. She ended up as the assistant chef at La Boniche, but she quit that to open up her own place to showcase her mom's cooking. She's the FOH staff and her mom is the BOH. I originally wondered how her place would hold up, but she's done very well - she said that they went black very quickly. The place is full of SEAsians at lunch. She does a brisk take-out business and is open in the evenings until 8.

                                  I promised the menu, and here it is. It is a fairly large pdf (5MB) and may take a bit to download.


                                  1. re: applehome
                                    Aromatherapy Aug 11, 2007 05:18 AM

                                    Thanks. Link's not working for me. So Daovone *is* Phien's, so to speak--just to clarify. Not 2 different places.

                                    1. re: Aromatherapy
                                      applehome Aug 11, 2007 02:11 PM

                                      Right - sorry I wrote it so confusingly.

                                      I have attached the one page of the take-out menu as a photo here. I'm probably wrong that she really expanded her menu. This take out menu is pretty much the same as before. But when I sat down there a few weeks ago, I thought I saw a lot more items on the plastic menus - could have been just the pictures. In any case the sausage, tongue, larb and the basic pho (fer) are all well worth the trip.

                                    2. re: applehome
                                      lexpatti Aug 11, 2007 09:09 AM

                                      Very Kewl, I now where it is, I'm anxious to try it. maybe squeeze it in this weekend or dinner some night. Thanks so much, I could eat asian food every night.

                                      1. re: lexpatti
                                        foodperv Aug 19, 2007 03:34 PM

                                        been to the s.e. asian 3 times since reading this forum the buffet for 7 bucks pretty good the lady who runs/owns it is a sweetheart of a person with a smile that is worth the visit very kind lady

                                        1. re: foodperv
                                          lexpatti Aug 19, 2007 04:56 PM

                                          They are great people that own it and run it. We love their food but always love trying others too. Pho 88 is great and I'm anxious to try this Phien Kitchen too.

                                  2. re: applehome
                                    Dinsdale45 Oct 4, 2007 11:47 AM

                                    I just went to Phien's for the 3rd time last week and it was tasty, as usual, but I saw the same old menu with about 14 items. I was hoping for a more extensive menu because there's really not much to choose from.

                                    I've been a SEA fan since '92 and I will always go back there. My only complaint is that Joe (the owner) lets the kids run the place on weekend nights. They seem unable to handle things and food orders can take 60 minutes or more and I always have to make them unpack and count the items because I've been shorted so many times.

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