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Nov 16, 2008 04:05 PM

Cong Ly - pretty decent not great (w/ pics)

We ended up here on saturday after a series of disappointments (mei li wah had no coconut buns left and hua ji (wah ji) ran out of popcorn chicken...although i need to try that place as quite a few people were there was their pai gu fan)

I think as most people on this board will agree that manhattan viet food is generally subpar (simply not enough viet people in the NYC area to make great viet food readily available)...that said i've generally frequented cong ly when i get a viet food craving as ive found them to be the best (although i need to try xe lua as there has been a decent amt of talk about them recently). I was craving pho this weekend b/c ive been reading some posts on the LA board, so i decided to go to cong ly. Its been quite a while since ive been there, so i was looking forward to re-trying it.

There is nothing to speak of decor wise as the place is a dump (probably even more so than most ctown restaurants). The owner was nice and the service was fine.

Here's what we got:
- dac biet pho (house special pho w/ several cuts of beef including tripe): this was decent, i remember it being better before although it could've been just that day. The noodles themselves were fine, not overcooked and reasonably tasty. The broth was decent, but slightly bland, i believe it had MSG in it, but a very small amount. I think mainly it lacked the depth/complexity of great pho broth (i had some last time i was at home in LA, so im probably making an unfair comparison)....that said it helped cure my pho craving and its still probably the best version in manhattan
- grilled pork over vermicelli: i forgot what this is called b/c its not the regular version of vermicelli, its all stuck together and more dry (i liked it). The dish consists of grilled pork over vermicelli covered in scallions and ground peanuts. this was pretty good, the pork was grilled perfectly, so it was still tender and i believe its been marinated in something b/c the meat tastes slightly sweet. Its served with nuoc cham (viet fish sauce), which i absolutely love and that complements the meat perfectly.

Overall, still think its some of the better viet food in manhattan on a relative basis and pretty decent overall.

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  1. I don't think I'll ever eat Viet in Manhattan so thanks for the vicarious visit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chandavkl

      u live in CA, so there is zero reason to eat it here...ill let u know if something great ever opens up

    2. Yum, that pork dish looks great! I pretty much always order a grilled pork "bun"? meaning over vermicelli and this the same but minus the salad?
      (honestly, I really need to find some new Vietnamese specialties to routine is dull)

      I've never heard of Cong you think its better than Thai Son, Nha Trang, etc on Baxter?

      6 Replies
      1. re: missinfo

        i forgot what the name is on the menu, its like #51 or so on the menu...its a bit different than the normal bun dishes as the vermicelli is more dry and its all stuck together; they do give u a "salad" on the side that is a bunch of lettuce and some other stuff, but i didnt really eat it

        cong ly is definitely better than thai son etc when it comes to pho...actually its probably better than most of the restaurants in general although i do like the house special steak and beef cubes over rice (bo luc lac) at thai son

        1. re: Lau

          compared to nam son? had a decent bowl there over the weekend; also saw a crazy hot and sour fish soup which looked like it could serve at least 10 bowls out of it; looked dumb heavy.

          1. re: bigjeff

            i havent been to nam son in a really long time, so its probably unfair for me to compare it...i remember thinking nam son was pretty decent a long time ago

            ive gone a massive viet kick when i went home to CA the last few times b/c little saigon is not that far from where my family lives and really tried to learn alot about viet food, so im probably going to turn into somewhat of a snob b/c i realized how poor the viet food in NY is after having some really great meals...the places i went to in CA were really really good...just not enough of a viet population here to support great viet food

            1. re: Lau

              Hi Lau,

              Have you tried Xe Lua on Baxter? I went awhile back based on the recommendation of HLing on this board and have their pho. I thought it was pretty good. I can't really do a fair comparison with Cong Ly as I don't go frequent enough to remember the exact taste. But I recall the last time I went to Cong Ly I thought the pho was slightly watery (bland may be a better word...)
              My friend told me to stick with pho at Xe Lua as other food is just average.

              Anyway, one thing that I also found was that if I go later at night the broth seemed to be a bit more flavorful than at lunch or afternoon. I think may be the broth got concentrated a bit more after boiling for the whole day? OR may be I was just thinking too much....

              1. re: kobetobiko

                been meaning to try xe lua b/c i read the same post

                ure probably right about the broth b/c it takes a long time (like overnight) to make pho broth and then it sits in vats all day waiting to be served

                1. re: Lau

                  Liked the pho @ Cong Ly. Nam Son's isn't bad either. Have yet to try Xe Lua but I hear theirs is good as well.

                  Cong Ly
                  124 Hester St, New York, NY 10002

                  Xe Lua
                  86 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

                  Nam Son
                  245 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

      2. i like cong ly, but prefer xe luan. the broth at cong ly is never bad, but it is inconsistent. and yes it is best near the end of the night when it's been cooking down all day