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Authentic Vietnamese food?

I was quite disappointed in the Vietnamese food scene in Seattle (as well as Vancouver). I grew up in Dallas, where I thought the food was good but was supposed to pale in comparison to San Jose and Los Angeles...but Seattle? My VN friend from Seattle even recommended Green Leaf to me so I trusted that it was decent -- way too sweet and overkill with the fried onions! I ordered 5 dishes (2 noodles soups, 1 salad and 2 dishes that go with rice -- perhaps only one should have the fried onions). Saw the Vietnamese market area and some VN restaurants there but didn't get a chance to try -- anyone have better luck? Did I just go to the wrong places?

Been craving VN food since I moved overseas...and was really hoping to get my fix in Vancouver and Seattle...but to no avail.

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  1. Try the Vietnamese food blog “msg150” These guys review all of the Vietnamese places in the international district.

    1. I'm no authority since I've only eaten Seattle Vietnamese food but i like Tamarind Tree.

      Pho Viet Anh. I've only been to one time so far but I really like the Vermicelli bowl with Lemongrass Chicken.

      5 Seasons Grill is pretty good. They used to be very good but they were sold and it's not as good as it was before but they do have a really good Bun Bo Hue.

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      Tamarind Tree
      1036 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

      5 Seasons Grill
      9724 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

      1 Reply
      1. re: seattleviking

        Second the Tamarind Tree.

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        Tamarind Tree
        1036 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

      2. Up on the Little Saigon hill on Jackson, Binh Huong is pretty nice and is well-recommended by the Vietnamese community. A lot of Vietnamese seem to patronize Mi La Cay over on Rainier for noodles, but I thought it was only OK.

        Vancouver has a large selection of good Vietnamese along Kingsway on the way to Burnaby.

        Green Leaf and Tamarind Tree are not places to go for authentic Vietnamese. Both serve Americanized, prettied-up third-world cuisine. Being not Vietnamese, I eat there on occasion and have no problem with the food myself, but I have never seen more than one table of Vietnamese eating in these restaurants at any one time. I meet a lot of Vietnamese in my line of work and they generally give these two a thumbs down (and the large absence of natives in any "ethnic" restaurant is a sure sign of non-authenticity).

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        Tamarind Tree
        1036 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

        Mi La Cay
        718 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

        1. I really like the Lemongrass on Jackson, East of 12th. It's in a mini mall that also houses Seven Stars Szechuan. Most of the customers are Vietnamese and they feature several specialties from central Vietnam. I have heard that the owner is from Hoi An or thereabouts.

          1 Reply
          1. re: forkit

            Strong seconds for Binh Huong and Lemongrass for very authentic cooking for a Vietnamese clientele.

          2. Being Vietnamese I find most VN restaurants around the country Westernized just as in Seattle. Too much added sugar and incorrect fresh herbs to accompany specific dishes.
            With that said, Viet Huong and Lemongrass are as close as you come to authentic VN food. Even though they also add too much sugar to some dipping sauces so you have to doctor them.
            I went to Tamarind Tree twice and found it totally westernized.
            Pho So1 in the same shopping center at 12th & Jackson was excellent when the mom was in the kitchen. It is not as good after the kids took over with additional menus items but is adequate for pho. Keeps me from having to make my own which required about 6 hours of cooking and skimming to get a clarity and depth to the broth.