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Vietnamese Run down in Minneapolis and St. Paul - Where to go for the best of the best?

I've tried Saigon on University many times and am left only really liking the sandwiches (banh mi?) and the rice noodle salad. I found another place called Trieu Chau had the best soup (Pho) of my life. Recently I ate at Que Nha and had a rice dish in a clay pot (can't even remember the name) that was excellent. My experience at Mai Village was all right...I liked the indoor koi pond better then the food.

My issue is that whenever I deviate from my favorite at any of these places I am hugely dissapointed. Does anyone out there have any other suggestions? I have heard rumors of places where you can "cook at your table,"

More specifically, are there other Vietnamese Restaurants to add to this list? If so, what do you recommend?

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  1. You can cook at your table at Mai Village. If you order their 7 course beef dinner (a bargain at under $20) two of the courses involve cooking beef for spring rolls at your table. (One course you cook the beef in hot broth, the next you grill it on a cast iron grill.)

    You can also order either one as an Entree and do the same thing.

    As for the best all around, I don't know that there is one. Saigon is pretty reliable, as are Hoa Bien, Que Nha and Pho 79 (at Energy Park and Raymond). Mai Village is The Spot for atmosphere, and the beef tasting.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Danny

      I, too, think the koi pond is the best thing about Mai Village. That, and the fact that they are well-equipped to handle large groups. The food is not exceptional, but it's pretty good, so it's still a place I recommend for groups looking for affordable cuisine and a nice atmosphere.

      We didn't try the cook at your table beef dish Danny recommends (will have to, though!), but, rather, a cook at your table seafood dish (sadly, I don't remember what it was called.) Unfortunately, I didn't think it was that great. And it was extremely messy (i.e., grease spattered everywhere.) We were a little dressed up (Mai Village is such a lovely setting you can dress up to eat there and not feel out of place) and I was really put off by the mess.

      ~TDQ

    2. Thanks for the info about Mai Village. I had eaten there for lunch and must have only been given the lunch menu. This is worth checking out at night again. I'll check out Pho 79 as well.

      1. I have to recommend Jasmine Deli on Nicollet. Le and her family have worked very hard to create a limited menu featuring high quality, accessible (to Americans), yet authentic Vietnamese food, including fabulous soups, the delicious and cheap sandwiches, yummy noodle salads, etc. The food is stunningly inexpensive and very high quality - Le makes her own broths, her own baguettes and a fabulous peanut sauce. Also, it has that down home feeling, meaning that when we don't go often enough or we don't finish our food, we get roundly chided by Le or Nu. Just like home ;-)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cassandra

          I totally would have said Jasmine if I had not thought marknavoski only wanted St. Paul: totally, Jasmine and for a backup, Quang just a block or 2 South.

        2. Pho Tau Bay at the end of Nicollet is EXCELLENT. Even better than Quang and Jasmine.

          1. Try Siagon Star on Cty Rd. B2 in Roseville. It is located in the strip mall behind Rosedale.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Sven

              Whoa...who is this "Sven" voice from the past?

              1. re: MSPD

                Yeah...I was distracted for a while.

                On a related note, I went to Krua Thailand recently and order the chicken Pad Thai. When she asked if I wanted mild, medium or spicy, I order ordered spicy, as I always do. HOLY CRAP WAS THAT HOT!!! Not only was the entire meal covered in pepper flakes, they even left a small pile on the side, just in case.

                That was the first time I have ever ordered a "spicy" meal that was actually spicy. I'm sweating just writing about it.

                It was really, really good too.

              2. re: Sven

                I recently tried the pho at Saigon Star (in Rosedale Commons--same strip mall as TGI Fridays, if you need a landmark) and was pleased. I thought I "discovered" it, but, clearly Sven and a few others discovered it before me.

                I'll definitely be back for another taste test. I tasted what my dining companion ordered, too, which was the spicy noodle soup with flank steak, tripe and tendon ((bun bo dac biet, I think?) and thought it was good. Medium spicy was plenty spicy!

                ~TDQ

              3. If you're in the Bloomington area, Kimson is good. DO NOT EAT THE BUFFET! Order the pho instead (obviously). I get the seafood pho. Amazingly good.

                1. Quang is excellent. They have amazing pho and vermicelli salads. They may have the best eggrolls in the world.

                  Pho Tau Bay is where my Lao friend says is best (most authentic? tastiest? I'm not sure.) I haven't been there because they are closed on Mondays and we keep forgetting that.

                  We also really like White Lily on 26th and Nicollet in the old Butler Drug. We have only been there for lunch, but the food was excellent, but we think it must be a dance club at night. They have a full bar and DJ equipment. Huge menu, great food.

                  1. For Pho soup I think Pho 79 on 26th and Nicollet is excellent. It is right across the street from Jasmine Deli.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: alflitter

                      Pho 79 has a second location on Energy Park Drive and 280 (classic strip mall location). Always great beefy pho. (Sometimes it seems a bit weak tasting at Quangs for me.)

                    2. Best Twin Cities Pho: Trieu Chau on University Ave just east of Dale.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: beersnob

                        I tried them recently. Quite good.

                      2. Funny how this old post from 2006 got resurrected. This is such a favorite topic of ours, that we have a new thread on "best Vietnamese" going right now http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/581796

                        ~TDQ