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Good Vietnamese in Oakland

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  • Ian May 30, 2006 06:53 PM

I have grown tired of Le Cheval and am looking for another place to try in Oakland. Some of the posts I have seen on this subject focus on Pho/noodles which is not what I am looking for. My wife loves Tu Lan's imperial rolls so any place that makes a good roll would be appreciated.

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  1. I have not tried the Imperial rolls, but Binh Minh Quan is about the best in downtown Oakland. Very reasonably priced. I also like Saigon across from city hall.

    10 Replies
    1. re: george
      r
      Robert Lauriston

      BMQ is my new favorite as I eat late and it's open till 10.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        r
        Robert Lauriston

        Here's what I've had to date (96-102 were bo 7 mon):

        would order again:

        34 banh xeo (crepe)
        43 hot and sour fish soup: nice pineappley broth, came with an unusual dipping sauce (for the fish) that smelled just like chestnut honey
        47 lotus root salad
        96 raw beef
        97 beef dipped in hot vinegar
        102 beef rice porridge
        118 pork stewed in clay pot with ginger
        131 pan fried "morning glory," ordered with preserved bean curd but they gave us garlic instead

        won't order again:

        37 stuffed chicken wing: dry
        98 grilled beef
        99 bo la lot
        100 beef sausage
        101 ground minced beef

      2. re: george

        I was just there on Monday, and tried the imperial rolls. They were only okay. They did come with lots of lettuce, cilantro, and lot leaf, which was a nice touch, but the inside of the rolls seemed a bit homogenous. That said, they have an extensive menu, and some inexpensive lunch specials.

        I'm also partial to Phuong Nam (near 17th and San Pablo). Never great, but never bad, and the rolls I've gotten in the buns were good.

        Pho 84 (17th and Webster) has some good rolls, but they're way overcrowded, and recently raised their prices.

        Nix on Huynh and Saigon.

        1. re: Merle

          I'll stand by Pho 84. Spicy beef salad.... *drool*

          1. re: SLRossi

            Second the Pho 84 recommendation. That place rules...

            1. re: DRR

              Don't get me wrong, I like Pho 84, but weekday lunchtimes it's a zoo. There are always crowds of 10+ people waiting outside, because the standing area inside is full. It must have been in a guidebook or something.

              They also raised prices recently. My favourite veggie dish is now $9 plus change. For tofu and vegetables? It is good, but not that good.

              1. re: Merle

                It's probably in a guidebook or two, but mostly it's just been around for a long time (since 1984, as a matter of fact), although it started out in a little hole in the wall on Alice St.

                So basically, it's built up a high level of awareness and solid customer base. And because it's so familiar, it's "safe" for people who aren't adventurous diners.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I think the comment about "familiarity" is likely true to some extent. But I don't necessarily equate that with a lack of adventurousness, at least not with respect to Pho 84. At the risk of sounding a bit hyperbolic, I've tried pretty much all the downtown Vietnamese places, from the big (Le Cheval, for example) to the small (Cam huong, anyone?), but I keep going back to Pho 84.

                  1. re: DRR

                    Yes, familiarity is a good point. Pho 84 has been around forever, it seems, and most people order the same old thing every time they go to a restaurant.

                    I wouldn't compare Pho 84 to Cam Huong directly, because their menus and specialties are fairly different (although the crowds are similar!).

                    I do go back to Pho 84, and love the food there. But not often, because of the price and crowds. It's like Aroma: great sandwiches, but who wants to wait 25 minutes just to order a sandwich to go?

                2. re: Merle

                  Adding to the post regarding my disappointment at the price hike at Pho 84. It was a much visited, always- bring -out- of -town -guest place to wow them. But now $13 bucks for a small bowl of soup (did the spicey effect but missing the nmuch eeded, promised okra) is too much. I wonder if the crowds will diminish a bit?

        2. Yes, I keep going back to Pho 84. I haven't tried anything there that I didn't like. The service has always been excellent and the menu is easy to navigate. The "special rice" is a little sweet, sticky, and moist - - and very much to my taste, but perhaps not for everyone. The sliced beef salad has just enough heat for my palate and has a great mix of fresh flavors and differing textures.

          2 Replies
          1. re: East Bay Realtor

            On a recent visit I noticed that the decor has been changed a bit. The light fixtures on the ceiling seemed to have a quieting effect. My biggest complaint there has been the noise, but this seems to have improved. Yes, the prices pinch a bit more, but the food is still great and the dining room is a bit more comfortable with the new chairs and a slightly quieter atmosphere. And yes, that beef salad was as good as I remembered it.

            1. re: East Bay Realtor

              yeah, Pho 84 was a favorite spot of mine through high school and college, but I can't justify some of the prices on the menu. I still miss some of my old favorites though, including the aforementioned beef salad. You should definitely try the Bo Tai Chanh (sliced rare beef, cured with lemon/lime juice) they offer one of my favorite preparations for this dish in oakland.