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Dec 31, 2010 04:10 PM

New Years Resolution: Explore Vietnamese Restaurants in MSP

For a long time I've heard about the great Vietnamese restaurants in the Twin City area. But because I live in the northern suburbs I rarely find myself near any of them. I'm making a resolution for the next year to stop using that excuse and make these places destinations unto themselves. But in order to do that I need some help.

I'm not entirely new to Vietnamese cuisine. When I was growing up we were family friends with a Vietnamese family who immigrated to the U.S. in the mid 70's. They regularly fed us with home cooked meals which blew my young palate into heaven. As a result I'm the only Midwesterner I know who thinks of fish sauce as comfort food.

When it comes to the top Vietnamese restaurants in the area I know Ngon Bistro is mentioned a lot. And Quang. And Pho Tau Bay. And I'm sure there are others as well. I've never been to any of them. So far my Vietnamese restaurant experience in MSP has consisted of The Pink Flower in Mounds View, and Vina Plus on the corner of Fairview and University in Saint Paul. Both are fine, but I'd love to experience better.

I'm looking for tips in approaching the best Vietnamese restaurants in the area as an extended tour. I'd like opinions for what should be ordered where. Also what places are the MUST dines, versus the optionals? Can any Chowhounds help?

Pho Tau Bay
2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Vina Plus
1821 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

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  1. Pho Tau Bay is one of the better everyday restaurants. There are better but this one is a gem

    Pho Tau Bay
    2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

    1. Quang is definitely my favorite and most frequent stop. One of my other favorites is Than Doh in St. Louis Park. It's in a little strip on Minnetonka Blvd... totally not in a place you'd expect good authentic Vietnamese food, but every time I've been the food has been fantastic! They also have Thai and some "fusion" dishes. I go with a spring rolls and a different soup almost every single time, but my dad goes for the curries, and the bf always gets the cranberry/scallion cream cheese puffs and one of the "Than Doh specialties".

      Rice Paper (50th & France area) moved from Linden Hills and expanded their menu. I know it's not the "hole in the wall" type restaurant, but still very good, and you *MUST* get the Delta Bowl! I promise you wont' be disappointed!!

      Rice Paper Restaurant
      2726 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55410

      1. My New Year's revolution is to eat up and down University Avenue, which certainly crosses paths with this initiative.

        Since you are on the North side, don't miss Pho Tan Phat for their weekend Duck soup special, or Kim Anh for their Bahn Mi.

        Quang is a good base point for just about everything. You can try a dish, and see how other restaurants compare.

        Jasmine 26 and Ngon do a more upscale take on the cuisine, and both are well worth a visit. J26 uses more sophisticated techniques, while Ngon focuses on local sourcing.

        You have to be selective, since they have needlessly expanded their menu, but Hoa Bien does some pretty unique items well.

        Don't feel compelled to abandon Vina. They did some good work bringing the cuisine here, and do plenty of dishes well. I put their hot and spicy chicken in the same category as Pham's cranberry curry. It's not authentic, but I still crave it.

        Jasmine 26 Restaurant & Bar
        , Minneapolis, MN 55401

        2 Replies
        1. re: kevin47

          Thanks for recommending Pho Than Phat. It's such a little hole in the wall I would never have thought to stop in. I stopped for lunch when I was out and about today to try their Pho. Really tasty stuff. I didn't see the duck soup special - perhaps that's a dinner thing.

          Anyway the prices are very friendly on the budget. And it's close enough to my house that I took home a copy of their take out menu. Great find!

          1. re: Diana_mn

            Last time we were there, it was written in marker on a piece of paper taped to the wall. It could be that they aren't doing it anymore, or that the piece of paper fell down.

        2. A recent transplant, I live near Macalester and so Saigon is my go-to place. There bahn mi sandwichies, pho, and rice plates are consistently great flavor and value. Ngon is fancy, tasty but in a different price range. Mai Village does not have the refinement as it's a big place; I've only been to Hoa Bien once and it was delicious...I had a rice plate and the ban Cuan. I've gone to the little place on Grand for pho, and it was just okay. Bahn mi at Trung Nam not as good at Saigon. I have tried to go to Vina Plus, but somehow have missed their hours or something? I will try again...that spicy chicken sounds enticing.

          Mai Village
          394 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55103

          Vina Plus
          1821 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

          2 Replies
          1. re: stepawayfromthetable

            it's gone or being remodeled or something (vina Plus)

            1. re: pmikulay

              Vina Plus closed. They filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy last June.

              I would like to add to the list of restaurants, though, Asian Deli over on Western near University (388 Western). I've been there three times since it was mentioned here on CH ( and it has lived up to the billing every time.

              Asian Deli
              388 Western Ave N, St Paul, MN 55103

          2. Jasmine Deli, on 25th and Nicollet, is one of my mainstays. Cheap, huge portions, and super friendly staff. Their cơm tấm, also known as broken rice, is phenomenal. Share it with a friend, and get a bahn mi each - there's really nothing better for the price!

            Jasmine Deli
            2532 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404