New Viet Place at Oak Knoll and 183 - Yummi Taco
Well, I couldn't wait any longer, so I ended up going for lunch.
Three of us went - the place is clean and the people are nice. There are about five tables, seating for about 20 total. A somewhat-steady stream of customers were coming in and out. There's a TV on either sidewall, one playing videos, the other just silent TV.
The menu has tacos, rice bowls, salad bowls, bahn mi sandwiched, and some other side orders and stuff. There's a couple of lunch specials that include a soda.
With everything, you pick the meat - beef bulkgogi, lemongrass chicken, garlic fish, and maybe a veggie option. It's a pretty accessible menu, and the prices are very reasonable.
The taco is like a mexican taco on corn tortillas, with a lot of cilantro and lettuce. I think you can get a flour tortilla as well. The bahn mi is pretty good (the bread is very good), but it wasn't bursting with the fish sauce and pate flavors that I like. It was more "accessible." In both cases, there was supposed to be some sort of slaw on the item, but as I was finishing, I realized that it wasn't there. BOth items could have used it (especially if there were fish sacue in it).
I tried a taste of the beef bulkgogi - it was pretty good. Sort of a slightly spicy and sweet chili flavor. Lemongrass chicken was not overtly flavored. The garlic fish was more like a paste on my sandwich, but still rather tasty.
Anyhow, I'll go back - it's pretty cheap, and the lunch crew was ok with it. You can try a lot of things and share, not spending too much $.
Since it bills itself as "fusion" and has taco in the name, i tried to keep an open mind that what i'd be getting wouldn't necessarily by traditional/authentic, whatever that means. And i love Chi'lantro's kimchi fries and have enjoyed many a bulgogi burger, so no objections to fusion as a concept, but at some point things become so un-bahnmi-like that i wonder why they even bother calling it bahn mi.
I disagree on the bread, i thought that was a weak point. it doesn't really resemble a baguette in anything other than shape. No real crust or chew, kinda seemed like a hamburger bun.
My usual go-to bahn mi is grilled pork, but there's no pork option, so i went with beef bulgogi. So eating korean bbq on my vietnamese sandwich, and though there's ostensibly peppers in the veggie mix, no real spice. Shreaded lettuce and diced onion is also something I'm not used to on one of these, no mayo or butter, and aren't the carrots and such supposed to be pickled? they're not, to the medallions of cucumber and shredded carrots (cut both of these into strips so you can get some in each bite!). Even the meat seemed to be lacking in the flavor dept.
It's clean, and the vegetables seemed fresh, at 3.50 for the 6 inch there's worse ways to spend your lunch dollar, but if you go with a bahn mi craving, you'll likely be dissapointed.
I'd order the bahn mi again, knowing that it is a spruced up which-wich for $3.50. I guess I shouldn't have said that the bread was "very good." Although, it was on some sort of mini-baguette'like bread. And I agree - the veggies were fresh, but there were no pickled items, or mayo, etc. No pate. And they didn't procure their bread from HEB (where many CHs have found their newfound gem of a baguette). Keep in mind that this is a lunch option in NW Austin, and I'm having to drive even further from NW to get there. Jeez, we've got Cheddar's and Red Robin up here. Case in point - I was with a co-worker who said "oh, I hate vietnamese sandwiches" based on her experience with the regular Bahn Mi at Tam's. "It had some gross mayo and weird meat. I couldn't eat it."
I appreciate that they're trying to do a restaurant - I didn't want to totally and publically slam on a a small business that's trying to make a dream come true. I think that they're a great addition to the area....if the customers demand more authenticity, then who knows?
Red Robin Restaurant
4809 W Highway 290, Austin, TX 78735