HOME > Chowhound > Outer Boroughs >


Ethnic Viet?

I think all of the NYC Vietnamese restaurants I've been to are run by ethnic Chinese. Some of them are very good, but the cooking tends to be Cholon-Saigon-style. Are there any ethnic Viet places that might have different menus, or a different spin? NYC doesn't seem to have a big Viet community, though they seem to dominate the fruit & shake carts. It's probably easier to find Viet-run restaurants in Syracuse & Utica than NYC.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I believe that Nam Son in Manhattan is run by Vietnamese but that's just a guess. Certainly most of their clients are.

    Nam Son, 245 Grand St 212-966-6507

    Someone's blog about a banquet there mentioning a few northern dishes:

    1. Most of the vietnamese restaurants in nyc are run by vietnamese wah kue, aka vietnamese born chinese. There is Hoi An in tribecca which is suppositly the most authentic vietnamese in ny, however the chefs are japanese. I didnt think it was all that.

      1. Nam Som/Thai Son (same owner) is/are definitely Vietnamese run.

        1 Reply
        1. cong ly on hester st btwn bowery/chrystie st is owned and operated by a vietnamese man. the menu is simple but they do a solid job at almost everything. it's my favorite viet restaurant in manhattan.

          3 Replies
            1. re: Brian S

              I believe that some of the Bahn Mi places are run by ethnic vietnamese - for example the old Ahn Do in sunset park was a big ARVN hangout.

              One of the difficulties with this type of discussion is that the ethnic chinese are always restauranteurs wherever they go - in many settings where there isnt much of an indigenous restaurant culture, and are very good at picking up and presenting the local food so that in the end it may be a distinction without a difference.

            2. re: surly

              I'll third Cong Ly but I hear an awful lot of Cantonese spoken there...

            3. Would be grateful if you could recommend any Viet-run places in Syracuse!

              Adding to the list of places mentioned (including Thai Son, but not Hoi An which is where to go to practice Japanese), Pho Bang in Flushing and presumably the other branches as well are not Chinese-run (at least the workers, don't know about the owner/proprietor, maybe someone out there does), and also several of the banh mi places.

              The thing about Cong Ly is, if I remember, that the owner was Vietnamese, but he also speaks Chinese including Mandarin, and it may be that he has adopted the fare there to the surrounding Chinese community, at least the pho which seemed to have Chinese characteristics. This was a while ago though and perhaps not a fair statement to make since we tried just this one dish.

              Once I asked a shop assistant at a banh mi place in Chinatown that was also a Vietnamese video rental/convenience shop where her favorite Vietnamese restaurants in Chinatown were in terms of authenticity, and was directed to Thai Son and Nha Trang.

              Another time I asked a Vietnamese cab driver where the best pho in NYC was and he insisted I must make my own, as it's not that difficult and much better than in any restaurant. Instead of a restaurant recommedation, I got a recipe.

              Then I tried asking this same question to two friends (one Vietnamese and one Chinese-Vietnamese) and got the same response as the cab driver's.

              You may want to try this technique, find Vietnamese people and ask them your questions, they are not that hard to find. . .

              2 Replies
              1. re: eade

                can't help you in Syracuse, but if you are ever in Amherst (suburban Buffalo) I can highly recommend the Red Pepper Restaurant on Maple Ave.; Viet owned and operated

                1. re: jgower

                  Folks, please share your recommendations in upstate NY by starting a new conversation on the Tristate board. The Outer Boroughs board focuses on Queens, Brooklyn, SI, and the Bronx, thanks.

              2. I've seen no discussion of it here, (except with regards to their pho) but has anyone been to Xe Lua on Mulberry? I believe it's Viet owned and operated. I don't eat beef so I can't comment on their pho, but what i've tried is definitely the best of the Chinatown/Sunset Park places.

                Also, for pho, i've noticed that there is a very small shop inside of one of the Canal Street shopping malls. I can't remember exactly which one, It's on the north side of Canal east of Broadway. It's very hole in the wall, which translates to many as "authentic."

                2 Replies
                1. re: yetanotherbaddj

                  I was there last night with some friends. It's terrible, or at least the pho is. Despite being very hungry, I could barely get through a normal-sized bowl of pho, which was bland to the extreme, with barely a hint of the anise or cinnamon notes usually prevalent.
                  What did you have there that makes you declare it the best?

                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                    I always get tom nu'ong & goi cuon.

                    again, I can't comment on their pho, but it does appear to focus more on rice & noodle dishes.

                2. The lady at Little Saigon on Grand is Vietnamese (they have a spin on pho called 'pho hue'). Also, Pho Bac on Broadway is Vietnamese operated. And yes, most of the 'banh mi' places I've been too are Vietnamese.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: devil

                    Are you sure the Bahn Mi places are run by ethnic Viet? I haven't seen any in Manhattan.

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      definitely in Sunset Park.

                      Nicky's is run by the daughter of one of the An Dong people, who I believe were ethnic viet, Ba Xuyen also, I believe.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        I am way out of my league on this one, but I thought the Ba Xuyen ladies were ethnic Chinese. I have no idea who owns the place...

                        jen kalb, thanks for your earlier thoughts on the distinction
                        (check it out higher in the thread)
                        I first had Vietnamese food in an ethnic Chinese home that was utterly Vietnamese

                        1. re: pitu

                          this is really something I am not sure about (except with respect to the an Dong people and what the former owner told me about his clientele and what I observed in that store) and I may be making unwarranted assumptions. and I wish someone who was making something of this distinction (which I am not) would be more articulate about how it matters with respect to people who were living together in the same place for a long time.

                        2. re: jen kalb

                          I'm only speaking of the places in Manhattan which I guess should be posted on that board.

                    2. Hi KT. The two 'banh mi' places I go to a lot are definitely Vietnamese. That would be 145 Canal and 138 Mott.

                      1. pho na trang on Baxter street is awesome. I cannot say it is def 100% viet operated but for under $25 you can feed four hungry people for lunch in under 45 minutes and the food is so tasty. Love the pork chops & frogs legs