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May 29, 2013 05:18 AM

Falansai (Vietnamese in Bushwick)

Have the urge to wax long and poetical, but instead I will say a couple things and expand later: overwhelming urge to return here, after just the first few bites of food. Beautiful and comfortable dining room immediately transported me out of Bushwick, to where I'm not exactly sure. Owned by a Slanted Door alumnus. Wines made for drinking! A little magic happening over here, I suggest capturing some.

Dishes seemed firmly rooted in tradition but tweaked to appeal to my non-native palate for Vietnamese. Everything was complex and delicious, nothing I can imagine putting a newb off.

Pictured: shrimp and okra, eggplant. Not pictured, braised pork belly with quail eggs and spring roll.

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  1. I have eaten there once, and I was waiting to eat more around the menu before piping up, but will chime in since you pictured the standout dish of my first meal: the shrimp and okra. It's a great use of okra -- stir fried so it stays crisp and crunchy, texturally working wonderfully with the shrimp and very delicate seasonings of Sichuan peppercorn, peanuts, galanga and dried shrimp.

    By way of disclosure, the owner lives in the same apartment building that I do, and is very congenial, so I do wish him well.

    This is a very new place, and I expect it to evolve. The Slanted Door references will probably lead to all sorts of wrong impressions and expectations, but I have to say it did feel similar in approach to what I remember from when Slanted Door opened around the corner from me in the 90s--an elegant approach to cooking, with very good technique.

    My eating choices that first visit were constrained by my dining companions (a non meat eater and a 4 year old), so I want to go and eat more, especially the meats and Chaozhou influenced choices. Apart from the shrimp and okra dish, the vegetarian cha gio were also outstanding -- perfect non-greasy crispiness and delicate fillings. The goi du du was crunchy and refreshing, though because we had it without any heat for the kids' sake (futile, it turns out), the one I had was on the sweet side. The curried eggplant shown above was also subtle and lovely.

    Very pretty room, could easily work on a date. Very near the Morgan L.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mary shaposhnik

      Thanks for elaborating, Mary. It's great to hear your thoughts about the dishes, considering you experience with the cuisine. Hope you'll elaborate more again, after they are open a bit longer. Looking forward to seeing how they evolve.

    2. Judging by the "street view" on Google maps, it looks like Falansai is in an industrial area. Is the area deserted at night? I was looking to plan an evening for a group dinner. Might I be better off doing it during daylight hours?

      6 Replies
      1. re: Rmis32

        I don't like to get into safety-related discussions because I find that people who might love the same food can have wildly varying perceptions of safety--different baselines and different tolerances for varying from that baseline. FWIW, this is located about two blocks from the crazily popular Roberta's, which has people waiting all night. We are also in the longest days of the year now. I didn't think twice about dinner with my kid there.

        And thanks HungryWino, though I must say I have little expertise in Vietnamese food!

        1. re: mary shaposhnik

          The blocks/area is industrial/warehouse-y, but whether you approach via Morgan or Jefferson stops it'll likely be more empty and quiet than scary. And it's close enough to the major Bushwick/Morgantown destination spots that friendly locales will be around.

          I'm hoping to try Falansai soon too.

        2. re: Rmis32

          Welcome to Bushwick. Nearly all of it is an industrial area. It should be fine.

          1. re: Peter Cuce

            Thanks, Mary & Peter. That's good enough for me. Let the planning begin.

          2. re: Rmis32

            The walk to Falansai from the Morgan L stop down Harrison takes you past one block of apartments and 2 mixed use blocks, residential and warehouse. Across the street from Falansai is a large apartment building. Between the train and Falansai down Harrison there are no other shops that I can recall... The approach from Jefforson is also short, but less direct, and you'd spend part of it walking down Flushing, which is a well lit, busy street, though more drivers than foot traffic. There are lots of routes back and forth between the neighborhoods which make more or less sense depending on how much you have had to drink. Because Falansai is a bit of a lighthouse for it's block, you will see less foot traffic there (for now) than you would near Bogart/Flushing/Central/Wilson/Knikerbocker corner hubs.

            Notable: they are close to a church and do not serve hard liquor. Beer and wine only. As you can guess, that's OK with me. Plenty of places to get drunk in Bushwick already!

            ... I saw on their website they are open for lunch now and serving Pho, which I believe they do not do at dinner. Did not see it on the dinner menu when I was there, but maybe it's available? Yelp says they are open for lunch from 1130-3pm, reopening for dinner at 530pm.

            ... dropped in for a snack and had the shrimp roll which I really liked. There was a bit of (marinated?) shitake mushroom inside standing in for pork fat and it tasted great with the diced shrimp.

            1. re: HungryWino

              I went a couple of days ago for lunch with a friend. We were shocked that they had no AC... that's going to be a problem in that area as the summer wears on. That said, it's a gorgeous room, and if the food was better, that would be enough for me.
              We tried things from nearly every category on the lunch menu except for the bun, and while everything was good enough, it wasn't good enough for me to return unless I hear that it's improved.
              The pho noodles were good but the broth didn't have enough dimension, the spring rolls were meaty and heavy, but needed some balancing acid flavor. The banh mi was the most disappointing, because while the jerky-style pork inside was delicious, there was too much dry bread, not enough filling overall, and just some sweetened fish sauce to bring it together. The house made lemonade was great - hardly sweet and refreshing.
              There aren't many restaurants around, so I'm sure it will do well regardless.

          3. I took a date there tonight and had a very good dinner, despite some glitches. We arrived after nine and apparently the word is out. They told us they were busy all day and so had run out of some dishes. The staff apologized profusely and made every effort to please us. Though I was disappointed that the shrimp/okra dish was out, everything we had - vegetable spring roll, deliciously crispy; 5 spice chicken and lamb curry - was quite tasty.
            There was no A/C, but with a fan blowing, we were reasonably comfortable. There was activity around the subway stop and by the restaurant. The streets in between had few people, slightly unnerving to my date, who, as a Manhattanite, is used to seeing people everywhere. But safety was not an issue. Though it's a bit of a trek, I look forward to going back. I'll just have to call ahead to reserve the shrimp/okra dish.