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Best Vietnamese in the Dallas area?

Where is the best Vietnamese (restaurant) food in the Dallas area? And, what dishes do you like to eat there?
Some friends and I are wanting a good Vietnamese lunch this Saturday.

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  1. I would go with Nam Hua or La Me

    Here is the translated Special Menu at Nam Hua
    Special Menu
    Vietnamese - English
    Vit Nuong Chao - Marinated Roasted Duck Gongee
    Chem Chep Nuong Bo - Grilled Mussels
    Goi Ngo Sen Vit/Ga - Lotus Root Salad with Duck/Chicken
    Chau Ngot Thap Cam - Sweet & Sour Crispy Fish
    Bo Luc Lac - Shaken Beef
    Rau Tron Thit Bo - Three Beef Salad
    Goi Gan Bo/Muc - Beef Jerky Salad/Squid Jerky Salad
    Goi Da Truong/Bo Thai Lan - Thai Beef Salad

    Bo Bop Thau/Tai Canh/La Lot - Lime Juice Cured Beef Salad with Star Fruit and Banana Flower/Lemon Juice Cured Beef/Grilled Wild Betel Leaf Wrapped Beef

    Goi Cung Dinh - Royal Palace Salad
    Tiet Canh Vit - Congealed Duck's Blood Cake With Herbs
    Canh Ga Bay Qua Phan Thiet - Phan Tiet Fish Sauce Chicken Wings

    Hen Xuc Banh Trang - Baby Clam Chip & Dip Appetizer with Seasame Cracker

    Be Thui - Roast Beef with Ginger Sauce

    Tom Ruong Me/Muoi - Sauteed Prawns with Tamarind Sauce and Peanuts/Fried Prawns with Salt

    Heo Rung Hap/Xao Lan - Wild Boar with choice of Lemongrass/Coconut Curry Sauce

    De Xao Lan/Xa Te - Goat with choice of Lemongrass/Sate Sauce
    De Nuong Vy - Grilled Lemongrass Goat
    Ca Nuong (Goi Truoc 2 Tieng) - Sweet & Sour Crispy Fish

    At Nam Hua they have a seafood soup (yes it has bones) that is outstanding. It is one of my favorite soups. I want to say it is the very last item on the menu (Ngoc Duong). Trust me this soup is a crowd pleaser!

    At La Me I would go with the Pate Banh Mi (I believe #1) or the Special (#2) with all the cold cuts and Pate. Also the bun cha ha noi is very good.

     
     
     
     
    3 Replies
    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

      If you are going with a group to La Me, I would order a side of the pate to share. I do not think its as pronounced on the banh mi as I would like.

      Love banh cuon (thin crepe stuffed with pork and mushroom) and bun gao (rice noodles with tofu, beef, egg and spinach).

      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

        Nam Hua would also be my recommendation if going with a group of people. The dishes LH mentions above are meant for sharing.

        Our favorites:

        Bánh xèo - Crispy coconut crepe stuffed with meat/veggies. Even newbies to Vietnamese food should enjoy this. Nam Hua so far has the best we've had in town.

        Roast Duck - LH, isn't that on the specials page? I don't see it listed above. Anyway - just ask for the roast duck. They should understand.

        Lotus Root Salad, Chicken Salad, or Beef salad. Any of these would be good bets.

        Grilled Mussels w/ cheese - sounds weird, but these are really good.

        Grilled goat is also good and comes with rice paper so you can make your own rolls.

        And definitely the soup LH mentioned.

        -----
        Nam Hua Vietnamese Cusine
        3112 N Jupiter Rd Ste 305, Garland, TX 75044

        1. re: LewisvilleHounder

          Thanks for posting those menus with translations. I have never tried either place and now I have to try both.

        2. Thanks, 'Hounder and 'Dude. I'm going to print the list and take it with us.

          1. Many thanks to you all. I think that will do it for now.

            2 Replies
            1. 'Dude, 'Hounder, and Webra1. What do you know about Ngoc Suong in Garland?

              3 Replies
              1. re: twinwillow

                It is fairly new so I have yet to try it out. I know that Webra has been and she can give you some pointers. If you are going for atmosphere then yes you probably should go to Ngoc Suong. If you are going purely based on food Nam Hua would be the better choice from what Webra has posted about Ngoc Suong on DallasFood.org

                  1. re: twinwillow

                    Ngoc Suong does not have a great atmosphere. It is about the same as Nam Hua, just bigger.

                    Although Ngoc Suong has some good dishes, I would definitely recommend Nam Hua over it.

              2. Mai's on Bryan in old east Dallas. thai fried calamari with spicy dipping sauce and Yellow curry or lemongrass chicken with the vermicelli noodle triangles. other people love the shrimp clay pots, that's probably their most popular dish.

                its BYOB, the family that owns it is nice and we've never had a bad meal there.

                thanks for the 2 recs, looks like my next two meals out are planned!

                3 Replies
                1. re: JonFromTJs

                  I haven't been to Mai's in many years. It's not far from where I live in Uptown so, it might be worth another visit, soon.

                  1. re: twinwillow

                    Perhaps I need to give Mai's another try, but last two times we went (about 3 years ago), it was really, really bad - burnt dry clay pot, bland salad, greasiest Bánh xèo I've ever had....

                    As for Lemongrass, it's virtually identical to East Wind in Dallas. I would probably only take someone there if they insisted on an upscale atmosphere. Expect to pay 2 to 3 times more what you normally would at other Vietnamese restaurants. I must note that everything is presented beautifully, but in our experience the food wasn't any better than Viet Nam on Bryan St.

                    1. re: Webra1

                      personally that's why i don't like the clay pot. but i love the lemongrass and coconut curry dishes.

                2. It's not a dive, but I am a fan of Lemongrass on Elm.

                  1. After researching all the above mentioned Vietnamese restaurants, we've decided on Nam Hua for lunch this Saturday.
                    Thanks, ya'll.

                    1. A general overview of my last few years in the Richardson/Garland area. I'm fairly happy with the standard pho/bun/bahn mi menu rotation but I've been branching out lately. I'm not sure what a good test for comparison is but I tend to judge on a good grilled pork and properly cooked noodles. Many thanks to all the posters for their insights that have led me around.

                      Good:
                      Pho Bac - My go to standard for Vietnamese. Good pho, bun, and bahn mi. Oh, Salty Lemonade is, at best, an acquired taste. Funny story. American co-workers. Me laughing.

                      Pho Bang - Terrific. Packed place (communal seating at lunch). Closed until March 6/7th-ish. They also smoke inside if that bothers you. Best tendon and tripe pho that I've had so far. Going to try the rest of the menu.

                      Nam Hua - Traffic is disturbingly low but the food quality is pretty darn great and the menu items are different and unusual. The food all just tasted a notch higher than normal. I plan on working my way through a few more items. Closed on Monday.

                      Solid:
                      La Me - I remember a pretty good bahn mi here but I need to go back to try a few more things. Very tiny space.

                      Pho Que Hong - I'll probably get skewered but I've always enjoyed their pho (at this location only!)... particulary the crunchy beef fat in pho was unique. Just thin pirces of fried beef fat that tasted like essence of beef. The rest of the Pho Que Hong locations I've eaten at have been bad to terrible.

                      Kings Noodles - It's Chinese but since it's mostly noodles I'll throw it in here. It's cheap, cash only, but the dishes aren't quite as filling as it's Vietnamese relatives. I'd rather have the Korean version of ja jian mein which is much heatier and filling. The beef and soup noodles are ok but I don't think the ingredients meld as much as a great noodle dish does.

                      Undecided:

                      Huong Ly - Spacious but seemed like low traffic. Food was ok but nothing memorable. Looking to go back and try some more items before a final verdict.

                      Bistro B - Average fare but a giant menu. Might be worth exploring but reviews seem to be mixed.

                      Meh:
                      Pho 95 - Ate here once years ago and didn't particularly want to repeat.
                      Doan - Below average bun. Mushy noodles and pork that wasn't properly charred.
                      Ba Le - Pork that wasn't properly charred. Probably the biggest sin I look for when I order grilled pork. Carryout only.
                      Pho Pasteur - I understand some people may have a perceived issue with the cleanliness of some Asian places. This place is too clean and American friendly for me. The food was ok but nothing memorable. Also, having to ask for (and be charged for) the chili sauce?!?

                      I think I still need to try Pho Tay Do and Saigon Kitchen. Pho Tay Do may never get visited with El Fuego across the street.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: amokscience

                        You should also try Doan's pho. They also have a seafood soup that I've been meaning to order and it smells wonderful. I can attest that their bun bo (lemongrass beef) does have good char; and it sounds like you had bun cha which isn't the same as bun thit nuong.

                        Bistro B is not worth exploring, if you're gonna wade through a menu I'd suggest doing it at Nam Hua or Ngoc Suong.

                        1. re: air

                          I ordered the bun thit nuong specifically and wouldn't go back to Doan for that. I don't know how specialized places are but with Pho Bang across the street it's an easy choice right now (well when Pho Bang reopens).

                          I like to try the pho and bun thit nuong (or whatever they have listed as grilled pork) at every decent place I visit. I don't like the shredded pork and don't really care for the meatballs either. I do like seeing how the tendons, tripe, and beef fat are different from place to place. Well, it's usually been disappointing but some places do one or another well.

                          1. re: amokscience

                            Based on that approach. I'd suggest ordering pho dac biet or banh mi dac biet (unless that's exactly what you're doing!). You're basically asking for their house special/house combo, each place does their own variation on it. Definitely glad to hear your reports for sure.

                            Happened to be at La Me today and they actually ran out of banh mi! Anyway I also never noticed until now that the bun cha hanoi is now off-menu, but obviously you can still request it if you're interested in giving this dish a shot. Doan and Pho Bang also make respectable ones.

                            1. re: air

                              Banh mi was also absent on Friday at 7:30 pm at La Me.....of course it could have been a busy day!

                              1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                Probably limited buns. I asked if they (La Me) baked or bought, and they get theirs 'from a lady in Arlington'. Most questions I get a blind stare, so that was a major conquest.

                                They sell the banh mi with a bakers dozen (lagniappe) price, so someone is buying dozens of these to go.

                                1. re: DallasDude

                                  That's the way to do it. I usually pick up half a dozen at a time.

                                  1. re: air

                                    I think luniz could eat a dozen. I am good with one. What do you do with six? I wouldnt think they would be good next day.

                                    1. re: DallasDude

                                      Eat em all :)
                                      I eat some right there and save some.
                                      Yes the best way is to enjoy them nice and fresh, but asking for the vegetables on the side allows it to be saved for later. I've never had any sandwich shop refuse to pack the veggies separately, it's a common request. Leftover banh mi may not be as good especially because of the bread, though I don't mind it because to me, its a far better choice over the lunch options I have around Las Colinas. I'm not ashamed to admit I'd rather eat old banh mi instead of Jimmy Johns or Potbelly.

                                      And actually I have not tried asking La Me particularly, but some places will give the ingredients deconstructed, which is the best way to go.

                                      1. re: DallasDude

                                        lol I couldn't manage a dozen. I usually get bun bo hue and one banh mi to go. I eat and take the sandwich while I'm out driving errands and then eat it on my way home, usually 1-2 hours later. An hour or two in a non-summer-heat car usually improves the taste imo :) But after too long the bread gets hard, gotta eat it before that.

                                        Best bun bo hue I've found in town yet fwiw. I'm not trying to say it's the best, but La Me is definitely my favorite Vietnamese place in town.

                                        1. re: luniz

                                          I usually get the pho/ banh mi combo if it is lunch. Dinner will be more imaginative, but the soup sandwhich just screams lunch to me. And I never finish one or the other. And I seem to end up at La Me when I have that craving.

                                          This is a repeat photo, but I keep it on my desk top to remind me why I enjoy food as much as I do.

                                           
                          2. re: amokscience

                            For pho, bun, and goi cuon Pho Mac in Plano (SE Parker/Independence)is tough to beat. For these three staples, I don't think you can do better in Richardson, even.

                            -----
                            Pho Mac
                            3100 Independence Pkwy Ste 310, Plano, TX 75075

                          3. I am looking for restaurant in Dallas area that would serve Balut. (Trung vit lon, Hot vit lon, Pong tea khon)

                            I know there are Asian Markets that carry Balut but trying to find a place to go and eat.

                            Thanks for your help!

                            1. I wish there was Pho in Allen. The closest I know of is Zanders a little south on Central but the fare is a little Westernized. I'vew heard of another place off Legacy but have never been able to find it.

                              1. We finally went to Nam Hua for dinner with a group(10 total), and used LH's extremely helpful translations to order from the Specials Menu. Everything was fantastic. The biggest hit was the Thai Beef Salad, but we loved everything: the Bo Luc Lac, grilled mussels, grilled escargots, coconut crepes, and on and on. They brought us, gratis, a coconut tapioca dessert with potatoes and carrots -- really tasty.

                                And, by the way -- if you ask for their take-out menu, it has the Specials Menu translated. Go figure!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Dallas Alice

                                  Since the thread started 2 years ago the menu was not translated and there was very little if any English spoken by the service staff, mostly point and hope you get something great.

                                  It was only open for maybe a year or half year before I first visited. I remember my first meal was with some close friends and then DMN Food Critic Bill Addison. I was completely afraid of the place because it was smokey and reminded me of my first Vietnamese experience almost 10 years prior at Saigon Kitchen on Walnut and Jupiter. The place was thick with smoke, beer drinking older gentlemen and no English. Fortunately we pressed through and had an excellent meal.

                                  Luckily they have maintained the quality even after the rush of Anglos after the DMN story from Leslie Brenner about several recommendations I passed along to her namely the goi ngo sen ga - lotus root salad with chicken. My wife and I went the weekend after the story ran and everyone had the salad on their table.

                                  I am still in belief that they have the best and most complex soup in Dallas. All kinds of seafood, pineapple, tomatoes, banana flower, elephant ear stalk (Bac Ha), lemongrass...it is just perfect.

                                2. When I first started this thread a little over two years ago, I was completely mystified about Vietnamese food. I knew nothing about it except for maybe, spring rolls.

                                  However, thanks to many people here, (especially LH) I've learned a lot about Vietnamese cooking. Including the difference between Northern and Southern styles.
                                  I now love it to the point of addiction and prefer it to any other South East Asian food. I feel that we are truly fortunate that so many Vietnamese families have settled in the Dallas area.

                                  I eat Vietnamese food at least one day a week now and thanks to Dallas Alice, today is going to have to be that day.