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Jan 9, 2008 10:38 PM

Viet Noodle Bar - Atwater

Help LA chowhounds !! We had lunch at Viet Noodle bar on December 4,2007 and granted, it was still brand new. Their menu was still small and were told that they were adding some new dishes soon. We ordered 5 items ( which was pretty much half of the menu) . Has anyone eaten there recently to know if they've added some new stuff to their menu? We'd like to return for another visit , but only if they've added more noodles to the menu. We haven't been able to find any Chow reviews on this place yet. Thanks for helping our hungry souls.

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  1. Hi White, what did you order and was it any good? Thanks!

    11 Replies
    1. re: WildSwede

      We started with the Banh Nam (tamales) & they were ok. The rice flour dough was more starchy than most bahn nam we eat and the fresh springrolls were flavorful, fresh and tasty, but should have ordered 2 servings of each because the orders are quite small. The friendly, warm service made up for that. The periwinkle/apple juice was nice & different. Then we had the $9 Pho (bland) , but were even more surprised that it did not come with a vegetable plate (no sprouts, basil, lime). Having a $9 Pho without these accompaniments is almost sacrilegious. But they had just opened , so maybe the kitchen still needs to work out some "minor" details. The few 4 items we ordered was pretty much half of their menu, at the time. We'll return to try another meal, but not until they add more to their menu.

      1. re: whiteonricecouple

        I think the lack of accompaniments is in the style of pho from northern Vietnam, which explains the thicker and flat rice noodle too.

        1. re: PandanExpress

          Most of my family in Hanoi do not eat Pho with any condiments, but collectively, the evolution of eating pho anywhere in the US usually always has the vegetable plate. Whether or not one chooses to add these to a bowl, it is normally always offered. I don't think Viet Noodle bar is making their Pho in the Northern tradition (lack of accompaniments) because even the most Northern of Pho owned establishments offer accompaniments. VNB's noodles were not even the type of thick and flat noodles that most Notherners prefer. Their noodles were a little thicker than the norm because they were over cooked and thus, expanded.
          What ever their reasons are , this is their offering of Pho and I look forward to having another bowl to see if the kitchen has made any changes or additions after all of this constructive feedback.
          I agree with you that the tamales were "lacking something". My explanation for this is possibly that the dip that was offered with the tamales was bland. The fish sauce was straight from the bottle and watered down (at least to my taste). I didn't detect any additions of garlic or lime in the dip. Maybe if the fish sauce dip was a little more flavorful, it would have made the tamales better. Let us know if you find out when the menu expands ! :)

          1. re: whiteonricecouple

            My vote is that they don't get it or are trying to save $$$. If the place was called Hanoi Noodle Bar of Atwater, I would say maybe they are being authentic. I've had Pho in Hanoi and I've had Pho all over Southern Calif. All the good places give you a plate of veggies and I personally look down on any place with mediocre veggies. I would also look down on a place that had weak fish sauce. Fish sauce is one of the most important ingredients in VN food. I remember coming back from Phan Thiet and bringing back some A-List fish sauce for my Vietnamese mother in law. She thought I was one cool dude.

            I would also like to mention that overcooking the noodles is one way to really ruin a good Vietnamese dish, especially Pho. Bland soup and overcooked noodles. Yuck!

        2. re: whiteonricecouple

          $9 Pho stinks. For $9 that would have to be 'life changing Pho'.

          I remember going to Lemongrass in Eagle Rock and they had anemic Spring Rolls that were around $8. I'm not quite sure why I even ordered them.

          If I was in Atwater, I would make the trek to SGV and have some good Vietnamese food. I"m not sure why nobody can make a decent Pho/Banh Mi etc. west of Downtown.

          1. re: bsquared2

            Really? If you got home from work tired at 7 pm, you would jump back in your car and drive through the traffic to SGV for pho? Living in Silver Lake, I can only get to the SGV on Saturdays and Sundays. And I seem to need noodles more often than that. Usually I go to Indochine, which is less expensive and less precious than Viet Noodle Bar, although there's no Bukowski to read while you wait. The other night I tried the new Lu Subs, which is only $4.99 for pho. It's not the best I've ever had (there was no cilantro and not much anise taste) but not bad for the price for Silver Lake.

            1. re: Chowpatty

              bsquared2- Yes, your vote was just what I was thinking, but wanted to give them a second try before I spewed it out. Another vote would be is that maybe they are under-estimating the knowledge and eating power of Non-Viet's and assumed that these diners wouldn't know the difference (hopefully, this is not the case). I know of so many Non-Viet's who know and understand Viet food more than some Vietnamese, and everyone here on Chowhound is living proof to why Viet restaurateurs should raise the bar & make their menu as quality as possible, no matter how "hip" or "trendy".

              Chowpatty- Thanks again for the heads up on "Indochine" (across the street from VNBar, right?). Pricing is crucial and if VNBar's pho was less than $9, maybe there wouldn't be much discussion.

              1. re: whiteonricecouple

                I agree that underestimating the diners is a possibility. I've noticed that the veggies were really weak at Lemongrass and some other places as well. When I've been to Vietnam, it is almost like people are making a salad in their noodles. The veggies are an essential component. I'll give a shout out to Vietnam Restaurant in Rosemead that gave us a turkey platter of veggies to go with our noodles!

                I really want these places to be better and there is nothing wrong with high standards. If you support the good places, they will stay in business and other places will get the message. I remember eating on the street in Thailand and asking someone why the places on the street are so good. They replied that the Thai people have high standards and if you aren't good, you will go out of business quickly.

                I agree about that $9 price point. There are some places (like Quan Hop in Little Saigon) that use high quality Filet in their Pho, I would pay a little more for that. But $9 for mediocre Pho? I don't need it that bad.

              2. re: Chowpatty

                I"m not a snob, but when I want something like Pho, Bun Bo Hue, etc., I like to eat the good stuff (and I live in WeHo). But I totally understand about not wanting to sit in traffic after work. My main point is that I can't understand why there isn't a decent bowl of Pho west of downtown and that I think it is outrageous to charge $9 for a bowl of Pho or $8 for Spring Rolls.

                BTW, we often drive to OC to get things like Bun Thit Nuong or Bun Cha Hanoi, which are much better in Little Saigon than the SGV. I often drive down to get some Brodard spring rolls as well.

                1. re: Chowpatty

                  After reading your post about $4.99 Pho in Glendale, I decided to drop by and try out their pho. Comparing to the Vietnamese crusine just down the street, it was a unique taste. I enjoyed it a lot. Another awesome thing about this new Lu Sub takeout is all the drinks are just $1.00.(free refills) How better can that get? Lastly, I came back with some friends to try their Italian subs, they were tasty as well. Just like Quiznos subs. I recommend anyone to try it out.

                  1. re: juicemaker

                    all that is being discussed here is the price not the food itself which i find really good. And Quiznos subs are disgusting, i do not want to go anywhere where they taste like that.
                    Viet uses good ingrediants, fresh and healthy the portions are just right, just that most people are used to bigger portions than what you really need.

          2. According to the last review I've read, they've added $9 chicken pho which was not very well-received.
            I really want to like this place but the minimalist menu and prices are making it tough. The turmeric fish noodles are pretty good, though.

            1. I've been there twice. The first time I went there, I ordered the vietnamese tamales as an appetizer. They were good, but missing something. For the meal, I ordered the tumeric fish bun which was GREAT. The noodles are a bit thicker than I usually encounter in bun, but they did a good job of picking up the tumeric sauce of the fish. I also had a cup of the sesame soy milk which was pretty good.

              The second time I went, I ordered the viet tamales again and they were a bit different. I think they added some green onion into the filling, which was just what it needed. These were great. I also ordered the chicken pho and it was just okay. Maybe I'm spoiled by my family's home-made chicken pho, but the broth in this one tasted a bit weak and bland. I had to add in some fish sauce, which I never do at other pho restaurants. One good thing about that dish is that the chicken was extremely tender even though it was white meat.

              The owner is extremely nice. I ordered my pho without cilantro, but it came with it anyways and he was really apologetic and offered to take it back even though I told him it was okay. He offered me a complimentary glass of ginger tea, which was decent even though I don't like ginger that much.

              I want to like this place more, but it's expensive for what it is. The servings are on the small size for a $8-9 bowl of pho or bun and the small cup of soy milk for $3 seems expensive too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: PandanExpress

                I haven't been here since it first opened. I ventured over here after falling in love w/ Viet's other place, Viet Soy Cafe (which I heard has opened up and has better business hours). The only thing I go to either is for the turmeric fish noodles which are tasty. I haven't had the 'real thing' in vietnam or at any other respectable hanoi-style restaurant, but it makes me happy. i have reviews on both places on my blog if interested... just search in the pull down menu.

              2. Not serving a plate of greens with the soup is intentional, according to the owner. He states that in Northern Vietnam it just is not done. I've talked with him a couple of times and he seems to be kind of distracted. Probably because the restaurant is pretty empty most of the time. Why wouldn't it be? The food is just average.