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Vietnamese food newbies - what to try?

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I've never tried vietnamese food before, and have heard that there are several good restaurants in Miami/F.Lauderdale area. Am taking some friends to dinner - can anybody recommend something fantastic, so we get a really good impression of Vietnamese cuisine?
This group is used to Indian, Malay and Singaporean hawker style food, and is hoping for that ooommph tastebud tickling experience that south east asian cooking can give. Thanks!

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  1. Start with the classic Pho.

    1 Reply
    1. re: taiga

      End with Cafe Sua Da.Vietnamese iced coffee.

    2. Saigon Cuisine in Margate. Very authentic and cute inside. Try the pho and spring rolls. The noodle bowls are also amazing.

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      Saigon Cuisine
      1392 N State Road 7, Margate, FL 33063

      1. Fresh made summer rolls are a must try starter and are not deep fried. I make these myself and they are fantastic. As mentioned, any pho is a good first order item along with any bun dish (noodle bowl). And Vietnamese iced coffee w/condensed milk is a must try, as mentioned.

        2 Replies
        1. re: freakerdude

          The fried egg rolls are also fabulous. Similar but better than Chinese ones. I also love the crepe appetizer

          1. re: freakerdude

            Second bun noodles, pho, and add to that banh mi, which is a French-style deli sandwich made typically with lightly pickled carrot, daikon, and cucumber, plus cilantro, fresh jalapenos, and Viet deli meats (sweet ham, chicken liver pate, cold meatballs, et al).

            Saigon Cuisine also gets my vote, but I also like Pho Hoa on 441 near Prospect Rd. They make the best sweet taro smoothies with chewy tapioca balls, aka "Bubble" or "boba." Very refreshing on a hot day.

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            Pho Hoa Restaurant
            5435 N State Road 7, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33319

            Saigon Cuisine
            1392 N State Road 7, Margate, FL 33063

          2. Excellent tips, thanks! Will post again when we've tried this in a couple of weeks.

            4 Replies
            1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

              Hy-Vong on Calle Ocho is a must. It is owned by an american woman and her vietnamese partner, it is to me the best Vietnamese restaurant in miami. I suggest you go either really early or really late. The place is tiny, the service is slow, and there is always a list of people waiting.

              Things to try - bahn cuon (pork rolling cakes), cha gio (spring rolls), calamari salad, fish with mango, flat rice noodles with beef, roasted duck, and vietnamese coffee.

              1. re: mcolon

                I would very much like to try Saigon Cuisine with an eating buddy. Problem is that he is highly allergic to fish (like drop dead allergic). No problem with shellfish however. He is concerned that they may use fish sauce or fish broth. Another concern is the language barrier, in that they may not fully understand the problem. Does anyone know if this would be a safe choice.

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                Saigon Cuisine
                1392 N State Road 7, Margate, FL 33063

                1. re: megskew

                  They have people that speak English there, yes. I will warn you fish sauce is pretty liberally applied in most dishes there.

                2. re: mcolon

                  Totally agree with U MC! I finally went back to Hy Vong after a decade long absence and it's as good as ever...and your timing recommendation is spot on too!