SD North Park Vietnamese--Vo's Cafe
In a converted taco shop, Vo's Cafe is celebrating it's Grand Opening. I love Vietnamese food, but I'm not excited about returning to City Heights for dinner. (I work near University and I-15). Of course there is Saigon at 5th in Hillcrest, but I don't always want to deal with the parking and white table clothes, for a few egg rolls, or spring rolls or a bowl of noodle salad.
I noticed they had opened last weekend. I tried them tonight. Well, the eggrolls were great! Large, fresh, crispy and served with good nouc nam (sp?) dipping sauce. 3 large rolls for $3.25 will bring me back again. I really enjoyed the spring rolls as well. I got a sandwich of BBQ pork, but it turned out to be Chinese style, not the warm Vietnamese that I prefer. I also got a Vietnamese salad/noodle dish. This time the personable fellow behind the counter suggested I get it with BBQ chicken. I was SOO glad I took his advice! The chicken had that distinctive Vietnamese seasoning that I had missed with the pork. With a fruit smoothie, all of this food set me back a whopping $16 and change! Try them now while they have a special price going on the second item.
I will return. Next time the sandwich will be chicken with an extra nouc nam container. There are some other dishes on the menu to try, but I started with my standby items. If you are craving Vietnamese, but are reluctant to venture into the 'hood for dinner, try this little restaurant. They are designed primarily for take-out, but there is a cute little, decorated arbor behind the kitchen. Turn onto Oregon to enter the parking lot. Order up front at the counter, facing University. Cash only and no liquor license.
Just wanted to give a quick update on the place... it's becoming a bit of a quiet neighborhood favorite. We're starting to crave the fried rice (simple, well-made, and not a hint of soy sauce, thank goodness) and I really enjoy the grilled chicken. Mr. Geeky knows his egg rolls and finds theirs to be more than acceptable. Is it the best Vietnamese food I've ever had? No. It is, however, very well-done and a great takeout spot for those lazy evenings. The owner (his name is Jean-Francois, I think) makes a point of getting to know his customers and we're really excited to see that they're staying pretty busy.
Stopped by last night and had the fried rice topped with BBQ beef, chicken and a spring roll. I liked how fresh the spring roll was, but like Ewilensky said, it could use more herbs. Mine had some mint, but it needed more. The rice was excellent and the chicken delicious. The beef was ok, but it was overgrilled and tough. I'd ask for all chicken next time. Mr. Geeky had the same meal, but with an egg roll vs. spring roll and he thought it was good. He also wanted the potstickers, which were ok... they're deep fried instead of toasted on the bottom.
We'll definitely return... it's walking distance from the house and for two people, it came out to $12.75. They're having a Grand Opening special right now where it's buy one entree and receive a second entree half-off.
Thanks for the tip. I stopped by for lunch this afternoon and got: Shrimp Spring Rolls (fresh), mock chicken and vegetables and a smoothie. Bill came to $11. Completely serviceable vietnamese food in my neighborhood, they are a happy altenative to a quick burrito.
That said, I was hoping for more herbs in the spring roll -- mainly mint of which there was none. Merely rice noodles, lettuce and shrimp. I must say these were made to order and were fresh and delicious. The crunch of the lettuce was very nice against the softness of the noodles. The shrimp were of a nice size and the 2 rolls filled me up.
The mock duck was average. Not the best I've had and far from the worst. Huge serving and I barely made a dent in it. Again, it tasted incredibly fresh and was clearly made when I ordered it. The mock duck had a softer texture than I was used to and the entire dish needed some salt, which was remedied with a packet of soy sauce.
The cherry on the top was a freshly fried veggie egg roll that just broke apart in fine shards of fried dough when I took a bite. Delicious.
Smoothie was excellent and resfreshing.
kare-raisu -- parking in back and yes, seating in the little arbor.
Small menu, anything can be made vegetarian I was told (I'm trying to eat more vegetarian these days)
9 appetizers ranging from $3 - $4
12 specialties ranging from $4 (Vietnamese Sandwiches) to $7 (BBQ Pork Baby Back Ribs) with the Vietnamese Curry looking very interesting as does the Bun Ga Vietnamese salad with rice noodles.
2632 University Ave
Mon-Sat 11 AM - 8 PM
This was the baked spongey gluten kind of mock duck, done in a nice, mild, vegetable gravy with carrots, broccoli and some onion quick fried in the wok. Nothing too vietnamese about it as it would've done nice with some heat in the form of peppers and some mint. Came with two scoops of rice. Still, it was a servicable meal and for the price I cannot complain.
To be honest, it is not someplace I would go out of the way for, but since it is in my neighborhood it will be added to the rotation and it is a wonderful alternative for a cheap dinner (ie: not a burrito).
I imagine if you were coming in from another area Dao Son would be a better option for dinner...
I will try a sandwich over the weekend (unless the beers I consume at Hamilton's make driving impossible -- which is entirely possible).