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Apr 8, 2012 05:16 PM

Ngoc Thanh - New Vietnamese in North Petaluma

The old Jerome's BBQ location (North McDowell and Old Redwood Hwy) now holds a Vietnamese restaurant less than a month old. I stopped in this afternoon and gave it a shot. It's very nice and clean inside with orchids along the entryway. The menu is fairly small with your usual Pho and Bun bowls, but they also had banh mi. I got a pork banh mi and a five spice chicken rice plate. I hate to say it but I wasn't really impressed with either one. They weren't bad but they weren't great either. I want to try more on the menu. Cheesy V pop videos play on the flat screens. Hoping it will get better but nothing beats Mai in Cotati.

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  1. How would you say it compares with Thang Long in Petaluma? I've never been to Mai, but I can see I need to go!

    4 Replies
    1. re: The Librarian

      I have to admit, I'm not a fan of Thang Long either but I remember it being better than NT. I have not been to TL for several years though so take it with a cup of fish sauce. Let me know what you think if you go.

      1. re: Andrew H

        I've been to Thang Long several times. The food is good, but not great. On the other hand, I don't have much to compare it to. I did try the new Pho Viet in San Rafael last week, and the food seemed more delicate and lighter than at TH. I'm not very knowledgeable about Vietnamese food - I just like to eat it, especially bun.

        1. re: The Librarian

          You will love Mai, it is the gold standard. But keep trying new places and you never know what you will discover.

          1. re: Andrew H

            Spoken like a true 'hound! Thanks for your continued explorations.

    2. Just ate at Ngoc Thanh for the first time today. I picked it because the location was very convenient to our schedule today and because, unlike a lot of East Asian restaurants (including Simmer), they don't pre-marinate their proteins in egg (my daughter is allergic).

      We made the mistake of ordering dishes that were pretty similar to each other, though they were all good. Nothing had a lot of flavor though, and it lacked salt. I assume this was on purpose so you could add the sauces of your choice that were on the table (hoisin, Sriracha, a chili sauce, and what I assumed was fish sauce). I didn't want any of those so made due with peanut sauce and the light vinaigrette that came with our two main dishes.

      The shrimp spring rolls were mostly rice noodles, surrounded by lettuce, with some mint leaves. There were several shrimps in-between the double layer of wrapper. The peanut sauce tasted homemade and was quite good (my daughter got an extra bowl of it).

      Fried shrimp over (rice) noodles came with chopped romaine and cucumbers (I'm a fan of leaving skins on but you can't do that with commercial cucs and the wax was noticeable). The shrimp had a good flavor and there were some sautéed onions in a sauce as well.

      Papaya salad was nice (and no noodles) but the shrimp were small and just boiled or steamed. We also got a side of rice for my daughter, as part of the goofy ordering, but she polished it all off.

      Warning for anyone with asthma or chemical sensitivities, they burn incense by the entrance. I should have turned around and left but I had promised dinner out. We came at an off time and could sit anywhere so I got a table on the far side of the room next to an open door. My issue isn't the religious expression of the incense but the chemicals in it which make me pretty sick (I've had far worse symptoms though so this was not the most junky brand at least). The bathroom had horrific air freshener though. My daughter came back from using it (she doesn't use soap because of fragrance) and she smelled strongly of it for hours.

      The service was good and the food came lightening fast (we were the only people there). I'm very happy that they gave my daughter (age 9 but she looks 7) a real menu and a real water glass. I hate it when restaurants treat children like babies, though not as much as the children do.

      If it weren't for the incense, I'd definitely eat there again. Good location for me (OSH shopping center) with parking right in front. And the food was good enough to go back for (especially for my girl, who was thrilled to have a big selection of food she could safely eat).

      1 Reply
      1. re: CyndiN

        A note about the online menu. Both the fresh spring rolls and the papaya salad say they have shrimp and pork on the website. But the menu in the restaurant just says shrimp and that's all we got (fortunately as we don't eat pork anyway). There appear to be several other menu changes as well.