Corte Madera: La Maison de la Reine - The best Vietnamese food in town
It is also the only Vietnamese restaurant in Corte Madera, so it doesn't really need to be good but it is. The prices are a bit on the high-side, yet I was very pleased with the combo BBQ shredded pork and BBQ chicken with vermicelli ($8.50)
First of all it looked beautiful. The chicken and pork was generous. Shredded carrots, slivered cucumbers, ground peanuts and green onion were attractively arranged on a bed of white vermicelli, lettuce and bean sprouts. A pretty bowl of vinagrette sauce with bits of peppers was on the side.
The chicken was really quite good. It was pieces of sauced Chinese-style chicken with crispy skin. The pork was fine and more sliced than shredded. The veggies were fresh and it was a nice combination of textures and flavors.
The bowls of pho looked wonderful and this is where the restaurant seems to shine across the web. A Marin Independent Journal review writes
"At $11.95 (dinner) or $8.95 (lunch) the prices seem high, but it's worth it for this labor-intensive dish (hours of browning bones are required for the broth). A spicy beef and shredded pork version brimmed with silken rice noodles and strips of unctuous meat. Strong hints of star anise and smoky clove wafted through the layers of noodles and broth"
The blog "Anna's Cool Finds" writes
"And they make the chicken broth from scratch every day and it is amazing"
Another blogger liked the vegetarian pho
From eyeballing the fried shrimp appetizer on another table which looked encased in a leaden coating, I probably would believe the MIJ review that the appetizers are not the strength here.
While it is primarily Vietnamese, there are a few Chinese dishes on the menu and one or two Thai dishes such as Pad Thai . The lunch menu has a number of rice plates. There is an option for organic brown rice. The rice plates looked good as well.
I loved a one star review on Yelp where the poster talks about knowing Vietnamese food and was disappointed the Vietnamese crepe wasn't like a French galette. Other than that the consensus is that the pho is good.
One Yelper wrote " Maison de la Reine is run by a partnership between Kevin, who is from Hong Kong, and a Vietnamese chef -- the menu reflects this fusion, with both Vietnamese and Cantones flavors well-represented in the menu offerings"
That was written in 3/2009 and there is a report in August that the chef left. There are a few complaints about it being Americanized but it isn't like PF Chang's. I think some of it has to do with not offering organ meat for the pho. Seriously, given the Marin location, they really could have dumbed things down.
It bills itself as contemporary Vietnamese cuisine, but it is classic. The contemporary being more of the decor. There is a lovely sun room.
They serve beer and wine as well as some cocktails with soju. Delivery is available through a local delivery service.
A few interesting-looking items on the menu
- Vietnamese Leek Rice Buns
- Soft-shell Crab Salad
- Vegetarian Special Tofu with Taro Root and Pumpkin
- Saigon Fried Rice with Tomato Sauce and Crispy Chicken
- Curry Squid with Vermicelli
Some dishes not on the online menu
- Pumpkin seafood fried rice
- Lychee sweet and sour pork
- Honey walnut prawns with house mayo
A few places I planned to eat were closed due to the holidays. I needed to eat because of some meds before braving the DMV down the street. So I sighed and headed off to the shopping mall. I considered The Counter, Bryans and Pacific Catch before giving La Mason de la Reine a try.
Being the only game in town in an area with PF Chang around the corner and Cheesecake Factory across the highway, La Maison de la Reine doesn't need to be as good as it is. I'd definately stop again if in the area.
La Maison De La Reine
346 Corte Madera Town Ctr, Corte Madera, CA 94925
It doesn't need to be as good as it is? What does that even mean? That we should settle for poor quality food? On the contrary, I would argue that many Marin restaurants shouldn't be as bad as they are, and there are plenty of bad ones. They would do a much brisker business.
Oh but Maxie, you read Chowhound and don't settle.
What that means is that given all the mediocre and mainly chain restaurants at the Corte Madera Town Center and nearby, La Maison de la Reine probably would have stayed in in business dumbing food down like PF Chang or serving merely passable food like most of the others.