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Mar 16, 2009 08:16 PM

Sunday lunch or dinner in downtown San Jose, near the Camera 12 Cinemas?

My wife and I will be in San Jose this coming Sunday to catch a screening for the Asian American Film Festival. The movie will be at the Camera 12 Cinemas in the late afternoon, so we'll be looking to have either a late lunch (2:30-ish) or a moderately late dinner (8:00-ish) in the vicinity.

I don't know San Jose at all (don't know the neighborhoods, never eaten there), so I'd love any recommendations for what's chow-worthy in that downtown area--doesn't have to be walking distance from the movie theater, but not too far away would be great. Doesn't need to be anything fancy, and we're open to all different types of cuisine...

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  1. My old report on Bo Town (Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant) is here, the link for pics no longer works. There's FREE parking if you don't want to walk, though I think it's walkable:

    Bo Town
    409 S 2nd St, San Jose, CA 95113

    1 Reply
    1. re: hhc

      This sounds pretty good--fried intestines and eggplant with garlic sauce are dishes I like a lot, so if they do those well, then that's a big plus.

      Any more recent reports on the place?

    2. Although your query may yield new suggestions, you'll likely find a lot more of them in past postings since SJ including downtown are popular topics. (Using the Search button above gave numerous topics on this board citing "San Jose" in the past year.) Here's a long one with many specifics:

      8 Replies
      1. re: eatzalot

        Thanks for posting the link to that thread. I had searched under "downtown san jose" without much that seemed pertinent coming up, and I'm not familiar enough with the city to know where things are in relation to each other.

        What jumped out at me from that older thread are the two Vietnamese places downtown (Vung Tau and Na Toi) and the Ethiopian restaurant, Zeni--but that one seems like maybe it's slightly out of the way from where I'll be? But maybe not too bad.

        Which of those would people would recommend?

        1. re: abstractpoet

          Vung Tau is very good, and SJ is known for Vietnamese food. It's probably a dozen block walk, or very short cab ride from Camera 12. There's a smaller place called Dakao just a couple blocks from Camera 12. They have great Vietnames sandwiches and takeout, and a small restaurant inside. It's at 2nd and San Salvador. Another good Vietnames place is Dalat at 9th and William. Vung Tau is upscale, the other two are down-home good grub.

          1. re: Hoss

            What are the must-order dishes at Vung Tau? I'm used to hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurants, so I'm not sure what to expect at a more upscale place.

            1. re: abstractpoet

              Dakao is a good place for a quick lunch. You can get a pretty good sandwich for $2.25. My favorite is the grilled pork (#14) with the BBQ pork (#4) coming a close second. You can either order at the counter or take a seat at one of their tables.

              Vung Tau is fancier but not like fancy fusiony type of place. Average cost of most dishes are$10. I usually get the grilled pork noodle salads. They're also known for their seafood soup which everyone seems to order. You can order it dry and they give you a spaghetti like sauce to mix in and then separate broth. Or you can get it with broth and whatever type of noodles you want. My favorite is the thick clear noodles.

              My favorite downtown restaurant is Eulipia. The food is really good. Delicious, basic good food.

              1. re: rosiella1

                Are the banh mi at Dakao noticeably better than what's available in Oakland? If not, I guess I'd rather try something different. Vung Tau still sounds like it might be a good option.

                1. re: abstractpoet

                  Vung Tau (which I love) is 10 blocks from Camera 12. It's not a very interesting walk, by the way. It's open 10 to 3 and 5 to 9. By the way, I would characterize it as a casual place with fabulous service and terrific food.

                  Another (very different) possibility is the Loft Bar and Bistro on Second Street, really close to Camera 12. Solid food, very comfortable and welcoming place to relax, and the website says they open at 1:00.

                  Vung Tau Restaurant
                  535 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

                  Loft Bar and Bistro
                  90 Second Street, San Jose, CA 95113

              2. re: abstractpoet

                Is Vung Tau the sort of place where you'd need a reservation? And any other thoughts on things to order? We're probably going to go for lunch.

                1. re: abstractpoet

                  I have never needed a reservation, and truly doubt you need to worry about it at all, but their website says they do accept them.

        2. Thanks to everyone who gave suggestions. We ended up eating a late lunch at Vung Tau, which I really enjoyed. After having browsed some of the old threads on the restaurant, I decided to order the following:

          #4 Cha Gio- Egg rolls, served with lettuce, basil, mint, etc. These were some of the crispiest, fattest egg rolls I've ever had, and the filling was generous and satisfying. Loved these. We shared a small order of four, but I would have been happy to eat a couple more.

          #37 Banh Dap Bo- Grilled beef onion rolls served over squares of rice flour roll. Tasty marinade on the beef, and I liked the presentation, with each beef roll tied with a bow like a little present.

          #49 Tam Bi Suon Cha- Grilled pork chop, shredded pork, and "egg meat pie" served over broken rice. This seemed like more of a comforting, down-home type of dish, but everything executed better than at most places I've been to. Really hit the spot. It was actually the first time I've had "broken rice", which I thought added such an interesting textural component. Almost like couscous.

          Anyone know the story behind this kind of rice--whether it's a different type of rice or whether it's literally made from broken rice grains? I saw this thread (, but it seemed like there was some disagreement.

          And last but not least...

          #130- Cafe Sua Da- Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condense milk. I'd read raves about their iced coffee, and it didn't disappoint. So creamy and smoky and rich. Probably the best I've ever had.

          The service and atmosphere was pleasant--definitely fancier than your typical hole-in-the-wall place, but the prices still weren't at all unreasonable.

          The only downside is that my wife is more of a pho person when it comes to Vietnamese food, and she was disappointed that they didn't have any on the menu. Are there any of the noodle soups or regular soups on the menu that you would recommend for her next time? Or am I better off just bringing her to a pho house?

          Anyhow, I thought it was a great meal. And after lunch, we spent a pleasant hour browsing the neat thrift store across the street (and I normally hate thrift stores) and still made it to our movie with plenty of time to spare!

          1 Reply
          1. re: abstractpoet

            Sorry, I 'm not into pho so can't answer your question, but thank you so much for reporting back.