Vung Tau II Restaurant, Milpitas report only
P. and I went to Vung Tau II Restaurant for lunch 9/19/06. This place is big inside and they have A/C.
Ordered from the large menu (there are 179 food items, then 31 drink items) and from Yelp reviews decided on #81 bun tom bo-grilled onion beef & prawns served on top of rice stick noodle w/ beansprout, mint & chop salad $8.95 I thought it was good, not enough meat for me, I noticed about 3 beef onion rolls and 3 grilled prawns butterflied. I had a good amount of noodles and saved some meat for leftovers.
P. ordered #88 banh hoi thit nuong-grilled pork served w/ steamed vermicelli & fresh vegetables $9.95. He was confused on how to eat this. Slabs of folded steamed noodles w/ the grilled pork on the side, then separate dish for the lettuce, cucumbers, etc. I think he liked it ok. He brought his leftover home.
free ice water given w/ a slice of lime.
I got #192-ca phe sua da-Vietnamese coffee w/ ice & milk $2.95-just ok..it was pre-made instead of the drip kind that they bring out at other places.
P. got #184 soda chanh-soda lemonade $2.50-he liked it, but noticed the soda wasn't brought out separate, it was pre-made for him.
Separate men and women's bathroom. Women's had 2 stalls and was pretty clean inside.
Total before tip was $26.36! Expensive lunch. Probably won't be back. They take credit cards, you'll need it.
Vung Tau II Restaurant
1750 N. Milpitas Blvd (In the Lion shopping center next to King Crepe and Vee Cosmetic)
Milpitas CA 95035
Hrs: I think they were open daily 10-3, 5-9 something like that
Vung Tau II is one of my fave places for some very particular dishes. I think the review above is not quite accurate with regards to some of the food. I'll just say what we usually get, and what dishes appear to be faves:
1) Grilled Beef Onion Rolls- we get the entree portion instead of the rice plate/vermicelli plate (here you get 12 rolls of perfectly grilled beef wrapped around onions that are also perfectly cooked, neither too soft nor too sharp).
2) Green Papaya salad with beef jerky. Crunchy shreds of green papaya topped with flavorful thinly-cut strips of marinated, dried beef. the dressing here is different than any Thai Som Tum salad or Vietnamese papaya salad that I have had other places. Not that spicy at all, but sweet and goes well with the Thai basil that tops the salad.
3) Lemon-Beef salad. A fresh salad with lemon or lime marinated beef, thinly sliced lemon/lime, strips of shredded veggies (carrots and red onion) with a piquant, lightly spicy-sweet dressing.
4) A soup- either the normal Canh Chua (Vietnamese hot and sour soup with some sort of delicious crunchy okra like vegetable (I think)) or the Thai style (their version of Tom Yum with lots of kaffir lime and lemongrass) or the Special catfish soup, which is slightly distinct, but delicious. Sometimes we get the Bun Bo Hue- Hue-style spicy beef and pork noodle soup. The noodles for this soup are thicker than usual for Pho, like thick spaghetti. This soup is slightly spicy and somewhat hit and miss. It also comes with a pork knuckle (I think) and hunks of congealed blood. We get it without the blood. The first time we had it there was no blood (which just looks like cubes of liver or some such dark thing) and it had a rich, sophisticated broth that burst with lemongrass flavor. Other times it has just been OK (not the same level of lemongrass flavor).
5. The cha gio fried spring rolls. These are the best spring rolls I have ever had. Impossibly crunchy yet thick with some chew to the wrapping surrounding a nicely balanced version of the usual filling. The spring rolls are served with lettuce for wrapping and three types of herb (mint, a type of thai basil, and I think rau ram) for inclusion in the wrap. They are always straight out of the fryer and ridiculously hot when served. Second place fried spring rolls goes to Cordon Bleu on California off of Polk in SF.
6) Lemongrass spareribs
Deeply flavorful grilled sparerib pieces marinated in lemongrass and spices. Great grill taste, can be tough at times, but is more about the flavor.
7) Claypots with pork or catfish- these are pretty good, but not large servings, so we don't usually get when we have a lot of people who like to share.
8) The sauteed dishes are either not that great or not very distinctive.
We get out of there usually at 19 a person (including tip) and very, very stuffed (we usually over order)
Vung Tau II
1750 N Milpitas Blvd
Milpitas, CA 95035-2713
Above is Vung Tau I reviewed in the metro (and they really like Vietnamese food there)
Thanks for the reports. I love the beef onion rolls at Vung Tau in Milpitas, but the other dishes I've tried (lemongrass chicken and another chicken dish) were always okay, but nothing special. This gives me a good list to order from on my next visit.
Are the prices the same at the downtown San Jose location as the one in Milpitas?
The grilled lemongrass chicken was surprisingly average compared to the flavor of the grilled lemongrass pork ribs. Also, the sauteed chicken with lemongrass and chili tastes more like caramel chicken I have had at other places, and just doesn't do it. I think the prices might be slightly cheaper than Vung Tau I (I've never been to VT I, but my friend said he thought they were). The spring rolls are 8.50 for 6 pretty big ones (and so worth it). The papaya salad is cheap (6 something), I think the lemon beef salad might be 7, the soups are between 11 and 13 for the hot and sour ones, maybe 8 for the Bun Bo Hue. The ribs are 9 I think.
I was cruising around the boards and it really does look like the stuff mentioned above seems to be the most popular. I would support this restaurant just for these dishes they are so good, but sometimes I wish I could feel comfortable trying something newer. I think I will have the special catfish soup next time.
We've also had a bunch of things that are pretty OK, just not amazing, but above average.
The same family runs Tamarine in Palo Alto, which is just too pricy for us to go there. What I remember most about Tamarine is that they have the same delicious cha gio fried spring rolls. The waiters at Vung Tau II recognize us and laugh that we drive from across the bay, but sometimes it is nice to have an old standby, and that is what VTII is for us.