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Feb 29, 2008 06:47 AM

Best Vietnamese in NY (both cheap and fancy)?

I've just spent a few weeks in Vietnam and have come back a major Pho-convert. Much Vietnamese dining is done in rudimentary street restaurants (which often have plastic children's furniture to save space) and the food is delicious - big steaming bowls of soup packed with noodles, sliced meat, bean sprouts, and tons of fresh herbs (a big plate of fresh mixed herbs - usually mint, basil and corriander - is as common a feature on their tables as salt and pepper is on ours).

So my questions are: Where can one get good Viet food in New York (both cheap and pricey versions), and is there such a thing as Little Vietnam here?

Thanks C-hounds.

P.S. Speaking of hounds, I did try dog (sorry); it tastes a bit like lamb.

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  1. I like O Mai very much. It's not cheap but good value IMO. For cheaper, more basic, but nonetheless quite tasty food, I go to Saigon Grill on University Place.

    8 Replies
    1. re: rrems

      I am also longing for Viet food after a recent trip to Vn. I agree with rrems that Omai is quite good (once you get past the pricing).

      One dish I did NOT like at Omai was their pho. They say that they make it with oxtail but the broth I had was so light in both color (pale yellow) and flavor that it did not bear much resemblance to that I sampled in the home country. Other than the pho, all dishes were good. Nice place.

      Can you tell us more about the Thit cho experience?? Was this in Hanoi? Where?

      1. re: erica

        in nha trang - my favorite place in vietnam - i asked my guide to take me somewhere that cooked dog well. he chose a little streetside place with those tiny plastic tables and chairs. they apparently specialized in dog. being that this was chinese new year, the place was packed with locals chowing down on all kinds of stuff (a fried egg on top of a rice meal was a common sight). so he ordered and they brought a little cooker to our table with a plate of uncooked dog-meat sausage that we cooked ourselves and ate wrapped in big fresh leaves with a special sweet sauce. it was good but frankly didn't blow me away. the other meal was curried dog and that was pretty much a standard viet curry (not unlike a thai curry) with veges that you eat with rice. it wasn't bad either but to be honest i won't be licking my lips next time i see my neighbor with her chihauha. dog tastes a bit lamby, a bit gamey, and judging by the sausage, it's quite an oily meat. funny how certain friends of mine who eat all kinds of other meat were absolutely mortified by this story. then again, i can't see myself eating cat, so go figure. i also wanted to try python, turtle, scorpion and snake, but those were specialties of other regions. by the by, i once ate dried yak's blubber in darjeeling, india, and it was absolutely disgusting. :-)

      2. re: rrems

        I haven't been to O Mai, but I would highly recommend against Saigon Grill, especially since you've been to Vietnam. When I lived on the UWS, it was only good for quick cheap delivery. Other than that, it's not worth it. You'll have much better luck in Chinatown. Some decent places are Nha Trang, Cong Ly, Pho tu Do, and Pho Viet Huong.

        The only upscale Vietnamese restaurant I've heard of in Manhattan is Le Colonial in Midtown. I've never been so I don't know what the food is like.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          agree with Miss Needle on Saigon Grill, it is terrible even by manhattan standards (i live real close to it and tried to like it, but just can't go there)

          in ctown, I think the agreed upon best place for pho is cong ly (i agree with that assessment as well)...its a total dump and is not very sanitary, but i think their pho is a notch above other places, their hu tieu is good as well

          1. re: Lau

            i'll agree, having tried saigon grill and omai several times. stay away from saigon and run to omai. i still miss monsoon.

          2. re: Miss Needle

            I've not been to Colonial for ages - expensive, but the food was decent. There was also a RW review of Indochine.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              Le Colonial is Franco-Vietnamese. I like it lots, and usually you can hear yourselves talking. The upstairs has been turned into a trendy bar, so it can be entertaining to see the various folks toddling upstairs. I've taken a few people there, including my parents, and they liked it.

            2. re: rrems

              I found O Mai to be overpriced. No question the food was good, but seriously- the prices are a little much for a good to very good Vietnamese place.


            3. Silent H in Williamsburg is a nicer VIetnamese restaurant. In Manhattan, my go-tos are Pho Trang on Baxter just below Canal. And I heard the restaurant next door (also Vietnamese) is great too. My other favorite is Doyers Vietnamese - on Doyers St. just off Bowery. It's on the "Bloody Angle." Their shrimp paste on sugar cane is addictive.

              1. Ask this question on the Outer Boroughs board. There are small Vietnamese communities in the Bronx and Brooklyn and there are also a number of Viet restaurants in Elmhurst, Queens.

                1. Pho Bang, 3 Pike St. & East Broadway
                  20 or 30 versions of heaven in a bowl.
                  I think the priciest one is $5.95.
                  Delicious cafe filtre.

                  1. I ate at Nam Son yesterday. 245 Grand. No, I'm certain it won't compare with the food in Vietnam but it's my favorite Vietnamese spot in Manhattan. Saturday afternoon, 4 PM, and the place was packed! Vietnamese families eating, lively conversation in Vietnamese coming at me from all directions. They do lots of different stir-fries but nobody orders them. Just about everyone gets the pho or one of those spreads with grilled meat on one plate, mint and lettuce on another plate, cold angel-hair pasta with chopped peanuts on a third plate, a fourth plate with pickled vegetables, and a cup of a sauce redolent of nuoc mam. That's what I had yesterday... a nice meal.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Brian S

                      i have discovered Nam Son maybe a month ago by accident (due to its proximity to B/D stop and Sundou dumpling house) and have been 4 times already, yesterday being the last time (around 3:30-ish actually)
                      I love their pho and fried squid, yesterday my bf also got the beef curry that comes w/baguette and it was super! (better than pho tay ho in bensonhurst).
                      Also their small portion of green papaya salad w/shrimp was plentiful and fresh tasting (altho missing some bite from lack of onions -- not sure if its supposed to have those but nha trang centre adds them and it seems to work well)
                      oh and I have also tried their Con Suon Bi Chai (grilled pork chop shredded pork and crab patty on white rice) -- pork chop was quite good (not best) but crab patty was delicious!