Roadtrip '08 - pt. 2 [Pennsylvania to NJ]
**Paraphrased: Looking for some good Vietnamese and Korean joints in the area while on my trip up to NY. Best place in Pennsylvania or New Jersey for some really good pho, Boat Noodle Soup, and Hu Tieu? Also, any place serving cheap, quick, delicious food. Nothing fancy. Maybe something a little ethnic and obscure in Philly, Jersey or the surrounding area. Thanks!**
Hey fellow foodies.
I just registered here, but I've been a lurker for a while. This really is one of my favorite message boards, being extremely informative when it comes to anything food.
Anyways, I'm from Poughkeepsie originally [Dutchess County]. Moved down south to the Tampa, FL area about 2 years ago, so you can bet that I miss New York. I decided that I'm going to start 2008 with a bang and eat my way up the East Coast, obviously with the pinnacle of the trip being several days and nights in Manhattan. But first... [Lengthy post ahead]
I'm going to automote/locomote up the coast the first week of January. Coming out of Tampa, my first major stop will be Atlanta. I've been meaning to check out this city, hit-up the Delkalb Market for some fresh ingredients [especially on my way back down to FL], possibly spend the day there. Any area of interest in Atlanta you feel worth mentioning would be welcome, as I love exploring new places.
A few other pitstops will be made, likely including Asheville, Richmond and Philadelphia. I wanted to pick your brains regarding eating locations not to miss. Not the typical fare though: the more obscure, pedestrian and diamond-in-the-rough the better. Nothing fancy, as all the big bucks will certainly be spend in New York...
Now, what I'm specifically searching out are good, authentic, Vietnamese and Korean joints that lay anywhere in my path [excluding Manhattan, I'll get to that in a bit]. Recently I've become somewhat of a Phởnatic, so I definitely would appreciate some input on where to grab a good bowl of phở or two. I've heard Virginia has a decent Vietnamese population -- perhaps something there may prove worthwhile? Besides pho, I like Hu Tieu and Boat Noodle Soup, basically any big, tasty, cheap soup with rice noodles [not too spicy though]. I could down a decent bowl of that stuff and be set to drive for at least several hours. Any other input you might have regarding the Carolinas, Virginia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey would be great.
[Yada, yada, yada]
Several days later: New York. Hopefully I get there in time for the sunrise version of Manhattanhenge. Once I'm established in there, I have so many options. But between all of the errands and visiting I'll need to do, I'm dead set on eating some of the freshest sushi. Must-eats include Yasuda, Kuruma-Zushi, Kanoyama, Ushiwakamaru and Sasabune, to name a few. Perhaps you guys can point me in the best direction, as I'm largely seeking the freshest, most interesting fish and seafood -- sashimi, preferably. Things like bluefin otoro, the best [live!] uni from Japan/Russia/Maine, some Sayori, 'artisan' oysters, live hotategai and just about any 'uncommon' fish imported from Japan, all served impeccably fresh.
Any and all of you New Yorkers are welcome to join me when I go to said sushi bars. Actually, I insist on it -- I enjoy the company of sushi fanatics/snobs, like myself, but I still have much I want to learn. And anyone that knows some Japanese has my blessings if they would like to join me... I eventually would like to start learning Japanese [for when I inevitably move there], and it would be a great learning experience for me to accompany you to a setting where I will undoubtedly find myself often.
I'm also not against getting some good, cheap Viet grub during the day either, especially pho. There's likely some good Korean in the City, as well. Feel free to contact me and bring me to your favorite pho place. Also, any leads or recommendations on affordable places to spend a night or few would be great. Any advice or anything else you can suggest would be most welcome.
Thank you much!
Excellent! Thanks Carl.
South Philly has a huge Vietnamese population. Anybody have any personal experience there? On second thought, it would be quite an adventure to explore the area myself. Any suggestions are welcome.
D.C. has a decent Vietnamese population too. But I don't know if I want to stop in D.C...
I'm copying these two posts from the Philadelphia board...I used them to find Nam Phuong. There seemed to be many Vietnamese restaurants and stores in the area. I liked Nam Phuong- had a great rare beef salad, fish in clay pot and summer rolls. I'll go back the next time I'm in Philadelphia.
"Cafe de Laos (Thai-Laotian) Great noodle dishes and southeast Asian stuff, a few things are more than $15 but their menu is huge (a little daunting, actually). On 11th St. a few doors south of Washington Ave."
"cafe de laos is super delicious. their thai wonton soup is out of this world. also, nam phuong across the street is very good if you like vietnamese food."
re: taste test
Pho places abound in Iselin, NJ. I can't remember the names offhand, but an excellent one is near the Asia Food Market on 27. If you want eclectic and unusual, though, Bistro San Miguel in Middletown, NJ - for some ethnic Phillipino food.
You should also see Far East Taste in Eatontown, NJ.
If you make it up again in NY, Saigon Cafe in Poughkeepsie, NY is amazing.
Off topic slightly, but...
Made it upstate to Cafe Saigon in Poughkeepsie tonight... I thought the food was simply poor. How long ago did you go? I feel that, judging by the articles on the wall, that this place used to be good a few years ago but later lost any sense of quality:
First of all, the lemonade (if you can call it that) had no sweetness and no lemon flavor - just some lemon pulp floating around. The glass of water with lemon I was given beforehand was comparable in taste. The calamari salad was ok, considering it was just lettuce, squid and some dressing.
Good sour shrimp soup, although it was lukewarm and only had 1 small shrimp in it. But that's where things got worse...
The Happy Pancake, thin and crispy like an eggroll shell, consisted of 3 shrimp and a little bit of fake crab. Nothing worth ordering again.
They don't have pho anymore... the guy said one could "get a big bowl of it anywhere," and they don't have the stuff to make it, so they stopped making it "a long time ago." He suggested the Bun Bo Hue (spicy beef soup) instead. Not only did that soup come out lukewarm, but the rice noodles were underdone (way underdone, like 30-second pasta underdone), and the broth tasted like a salty bullion cube plus some curry spice, and looked like a cloudy, yellow chicken stock. The beef that was in there, all 2 tablespoons of it, seemed out of a can of beef soup: tiny morsels of dry, flaky shredded meat with no flavor. Could the soup be from out of a can? There was really nothing else in it other than (literally) a couple slices of scallions and a few onion pieces.
I was thoroughly disappointed in most of the dishes, the fact that there was no pho, basically the 'restaurant' as a whole. We were the only ones there (a couple just left) and it still took 15-20 minutes to get out the un-lemonade, soon followed by warm-ish soup and uncooked noodles. I was almost ready to get up, leave and go to Miss Saigon down the street just for some decent hot soup. I mean, how do you mess up soup and noodles?! And what's a Vietnamese place that has pho on the menu but hasn't had it since "a long time ago."
And I'm not just being picky - I was really hungry but couldn't force myself to eat more than several bites of each. I will not go there again.
That really does sound like a horrible meal! Since the restaurant is in Poughkeepsie, I think you should post this report again on the Tri-State board because Hounds who dine in that area and would be interested in reading about our experience most probably don't read the Mid-Atlantic board with any regularity.