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Best spots to try in Orlando's Vietnamese neighborhood?

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I've been to Lac Viet, which is pretty and I love... had some savory duck soup - probably a variety of pho but spicy and dark broth... I need to figure out what to order and where to go to get that soup that has the cinnamony spiced broth (often clear-ish at the top but dark, savory and gorgeous at the bottom).

I'll be dining alone - but that hasn't stopped me before. Where besides Lac Viet in that general neck of the woods (within a couple miles of Colonial Dr./17-92 intersection) would you recommend? And is there anything good north farther - up as far as Altamonte Springs (which would be geographically more convenient - I'll still go to one of the places in the main Vietnamese neighborhood)?

Thanks!

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  1. I'm fond of both Lac Viet and the more casual Little Saigon that is closer to Mills, but those don't seem to be popular choices among other Chowhounds. Also Ba Le, the French-Vietnamese bakery a few blocks north on Mills, has the best bahn mi sandwiches.

    1. my vote is for Viet Garden on Colonial....very clean, and the food's so fresh! i always get the grilled pork vermicelli, mmm!
      i wish there was a vietnamese place further north too, i'm in WP, and it's quite a drive for a few summer rolls

      1. I second Viet Garden as well as recommend Pho 88, Viet Town and Ming's Bistro -- Chinese dim sum, for the most part -- and also Tasty Wok for good home style Chinese, all located in the Vietnamese area around Colonial and Mills.

        You can try Eastern Pearl on 436 in Altamonte, especially if closer is good. They fell off my list after new owners played havoc with the menu, but I haven't been back in a while. Maybe it's better.

        Bob

        4 Replies
        1. re: Bob Mervine

          Thanks - this trip I'll try Viet Garden, or if not possible to get down there for dinner, will aim for lunch from Ba Le... I kept wondering about that place! (I wish there was good Vietnamese in L.A. - haven't found any yet.)

          1. re: Cinnamon

            I have give a nod to Pho 88. If it's pho you want, they'll have it. Don't forget to pick up some Bun Bao from Ba Le.

          2. re: Bob Mervine

            I don't recommend Eastern Pearl. We've tried it a few times over the past year and it's just not that great anymore. I always end up very disappointed and after our last visit there I vowed not to go back. It's too bad--it was amazing for the first few years it was open.

            1. re: mish

              Mish, that's consistant with my experience and what I've heard from others.

              However, the OP is in that part of town.

              My question is, what happened to the original owners? Surely they didn't get out of the restaurant business. They have to be running a place somewhere -- hopefully in Orlando?

              Bob

          3. My favorite by far is Anh Hong, on the corner of 50 and Mills. I once ate at all the places back to back over a two-week period. Comparing the restaurants like that, it became obvious that Anh Hong's dishes were fresher and more flavorful. The stir-fries aren't great but the rest is outstanding.

            1. I may/or may not have owned a Vietnamese Restaurant in Orlando...with that being said here is my take on some of the Vietnamese Restaurants in Orlando =)

              Pho Hoa: Hands down the best Pho when they are on their game, which is not all the time. The Bun Bo Hue, Roasted Quail, and Summer roll samplers are some notable dishes. The current owner has been in the business for the past 8 years. Located at Colonial and Primrose. Spotty service.

              Tay Do: Used to be Thanh Thanh, now completely renovated with new management. Has authentic and excellent family style Vietnamese Cuisine. Some dishes include the clay pot fish, and hot and sour soup. Located on East Colonial accross from the Dollar store.

              Pho 89 (or 79): Newest kid on the block. This owner/chef worked for me for a couple months and is very talented. Brings 10 years experience and vietnamese style cuisine over from Orange County California. This place is located on Mills a couple blocks down from Pho 88 (Used to be Mai's Place, and before that Hien's).

              Lac Viet: Best in terms of atmosphere, decor, and service. The food has gotten better since they got a new head chef who is very talented and has been in many kitchens (Pho Hoa, Pho 88, Pho Saigon). They offer a servicable Bun Rieu which is not offered at many of the other restaurants. Also their Banh Cuon Lac Viec Dac Biet reminds of how mom used to do it. Located next to Tay Do.

              The Rest:
              Pho 88 is consitently ok, nothing too notable, but service is usually ok.
              Viet Garden is/ or will be under new management soon, but before the owner sold it it was weak in terms of their Vietnamese cuisine and I cannot comment on their Thai menu.
              Anh Hong was dirty, the food was ok, and service was lacking my two visits there.
              Vietnamtown is a case of the menu being too big and not being able to do anything especially well.
              Little Saigon did well with their remodelling, service is probably the best out of all of the Vietnamese restaurants, but their food has been geared for American palettes.
              Pho Saigon: Bad pho, spotty service.
              Vinh's I have not been to.

              2 Replies
              1. re: PhoKng

                Do you have any information on who Tony sold Viet Garden to and where/what he ight be doing in the future?
                As you know, his heritage is both Thai and Vietnamese, which I think diluted the two cuisines a bit.
                Still I lked his summer rolls a lot and it was always a nice "Cheers" kind of atmosphere when I went there.

                I would agree on Vietnam Town in terms of the ambiance -- it was always a nice place for lunch, had a full bar, good service but you felt like it was in the corner of a banquet room.

                Thanks for the news about Lac Viet. I had two mediocre experiences there early, but friends continue to love it. Must go back with the new chef.

                Is Pho 89 south of Colonial? Am not familar with the other references you make.\

                Also must try Tay Do. Never had any luck there at all when it was Thanh Thanh.

                Bob

                1. re: PhoKng

                  Fascinating guide! Thanks a lot. I'll have to branch out and try some of the other places, but we always seem to end up back at Little Saigon (not that there's anything wrong with that).