Vo's in Oakland has re-opened
Had a nice lunch there yesterday - the place was packed. They have done a nice just updating it. Good to have them back in the neighborhood. They will be open for lunch, then happy hour (beer and wine) from 4 to 6 and dinner from 6 to 9. Afterward we walked around the corner to Franklin Square where a great afro-cuban quartet was playing. Seems that every Wednesday in July there will be some sort of live performance there. Very nice.
Went again last night, tried a few more things:
Bánh xèo ($12) was okay, not great, to me it had an odd banana flavor. I wouldn't order it again. Where can you get a great bánh xèo in Oakland these days, anyway?
Catfish soup with tamarind base ($14) was fabulous. Fish, okra, tomatoes, all perfectly cooked, great balanced broth. Fish was skinless and boneless, from the mild flavor I wouldn't have known it was catfish (if it was). Next time I'd ask for it spicy.
Garlic noodles ($7) were very close to spaghetti aglio e olio. Good.
Braised pork belly and daikon ($16) were very good. Nice glazed and well-rendered piece of pork. Delicious big chunk of radish, tender all the way through.
Green beans and shitakes ($10) were good, big portion.
The music wasn't as loud and the sound was off on the TVs. The service was a little scattered but everybody was very friendly.
re: Robert Lauriston
Banh Xeo is on the menu at Anh Hong in Berkeley for dinner. And there is good but not great Banh Xeo in Alameda at Pho Little Saigon.
Binh Minh Quan has Banh Xeo as you know, but last time I was there they burned it bad enough for me not to be able to finish it. And that is quite a feat.
Went for dinner last night. The space is very nice, especially for the modest prices. Too noisy: at least one of the two TVs had the sound up battling with some kind of chill-techno music. Good crowd, very diverse.
"Chili Calamari Crunch" (fried squid and fried jalapeño slices, $6) was excellent and a large portion for the price.
Beef in lot leaves ($8) showed no signs of grilling, but it was delicious.
We ordered the catfish soup but the server brought catfish clay pot by mistake ($14), and it looked so good we kept it. Great version of this dish, only slightly sweet, nice earthy fish flavor.
We expected "Coconut Braised Spareribs with Quail Eggs" ($14) to be fusiony, but instead it was very funky and traditional-seeming, an earthy stew of small pieces of rib and lots of hard-boiled quail eggs in a dark, salty sauce. If this is their own invention, they weren't making any effort to please American palates.
A side of baby bok choy ($2) was a great value.
Nice selection of beer ("33" is $4) and white wines by the glass (Dr. whoosis Riesling was $10). Red wines were all heavy New World style, not really a good match for the food.
Very nice addition to the neighborhood. They have a happy hour 4-7 weekdays at the bar, $1 or more off everything (see the Web site for a menu).
Agreed about FINALLY. It seems like the new decor has been set up ready to go for ages! I've been taking the 11 down to Laney or over to Broadway from my place for the last 6 months, so I'd totally forgotten about it, but even last December it still seemed like it had been forever since they looked ready to open!
Can't wait to hear more reports. It may well become a stop for late lunches on my way back from summer school in the coming weeks.
You're kidding. Finally? They almost made "in June".. just a year off. Do you have a menu/card that indicates hours? I can't make it weekdays anymore, but if they are open on weekends, would try them out to compare quality. Parking is certainly easier there than at Binh Minh Quan, and BMQ has not been exciting me recently.