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Jun 10, 2006 11:18 PM

Favorite Vietnamese

  • c

I was at Bodega Bistro the other night and was somewhat underwhelmed. Most of my trips there have been terrific, and I'll keep going back, but I wonder what other favorites people have for Vietnamese food. No need to rehash the dabate about Slanted Door. Thanks!

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  1. Just had the best Vietnamese meal at Nha Toi in San Jose tonight. Excellent meal, bursting with herbs and flavors , plump shrimp, and carefully crafted dishes. Nha Toi reminded me of the now defunct Nha Trang in Oakland.

    I was also underwhelmed at Bodega Bistro.

    4 Replies
    1. re: stuart

      Hi Stuart. Can you say more about the food and menu at Nha Toi? I'm VERY interested. Googling shows that it's located at 460 E. William in SJ. One site says it's French/Viet. Thanks for the tip!

      1. re: Carb Lover

        I'd love to tell you more, but I basically sit like a lame duck while my Vietnamese roommate and his family order everything. The menu was huge with Specials listed only in Vietnamese - sort of reminded me of how the Japanese izakayas also just have specials in Japanese - ha! There was an eel dish, which I guess is unusual in Viet restaurants around here.

        You have the right address, I think. It's near San Jose State Univ.

        We had two kinds of green papaya salads, a delicious taro/snapper hot pot greens and bun noodles to add in your own bowl, a salted dried fish fried rice (nothing like any fried rice I have ever had before), a sauteed calamari dish with hot peppers, a cha gio spring rolls with the thinnest, crispiest skin I have ever had, all with a side of refreshingly balanced nuoc mam.

        The place was packed last night. Seeing that they have been open for less than 6 months, they are doing pretty well.

        My RM's uncle, who is a super gourmet Vietnamese man, said that Vung Tau is comparable in quality, but Nha Toi has greater depth and more 'exotic' dishes.

        I didn't notice a seven fish course, but again, I couldn't read the menu. Also, there is plenty of deliciousness on the menu that I can easily see making your own 7 course fish verion without too much trouble.

        I give it two thumbs and two toes up.

        1. re: stuart

          Four appendages up means it's a must try! Thanks for the helpful info. Nathan P. and I walked by this place when we were scouting out Dalat down the street. Unfortunately, we didn't pop in to check out the space or menu. From the outside it looked fairly modern and roomy. I do remember the big pots of bamboo and fragrant mint growing outside though...

      2. re: stuart

        Nha Trang (sorely missed) did 7 courses of fish -- does Nha Toi?

      3. My favorite in SF is still Yummy Yummy on Irving between 11th and 12th. Stand-outs include raw beef salad, five-spice chicken, and grilled pork.

        I went to the re-opened Lotus Garden this week and liked it very much. We had bhan khot (not on the menu), small fried cups of coconut-milk based custard with shrimp and maybe leeks. The insides weren't as creamy as the ones I like at Yummy Yummy, but the bottoms were cooked more crisply so the textural contrast with the inside was great. I also really liked the claypot catfish, which was less sweet and more peppery and overall less cloying than other versions I've had.

        At Bodego Bistro I love the bun cha Hanoi style. Instead of the bowl of vermicelli with everything on top like a salad, BB's bun cha comes as a bowl of grilled pork and pork meatballs in fish sauce with noodles, pickled carrots, pickled daikon, and cucumber on the side for wrapping into lettuce leaves. Although I think Yummy Yummy has much more breadth than BB, the bun cha at BB ties Yummy Yummy's raw beef salad as my favorite Vietnamese dish in SF.

        For regular bun -- meat, fried imperial rolls, and vegetables served on vermicelli -- Sai's (financial district) and Sunflower (16th & Valencia) are probably my favorites in town, even though I haven't enjoyed much else at either place.

        1. I like recommend Lotus Garden on Mission Street close to Blue Plate.

          Vietanmese Pot Stickers, nothing the Chinese verison
          Raw Beef Salad
          Garlic Crab

          Are three dishes I really like

          I too was underwhelmed with Bodega Bistro too.

          1. r
            Robert Lauriston

            What did you eat at Bodega Bistro?

            1. f

              pho hoa on jones at ofarrell is the best pho, hands down. the broth is dreams. it is also fun to talk to the owner-he has lots to say.