Location: 124 Hester St (btw Bowery & Chrystie)
Price: Pho $5-6
I recently had conversation with a vietnamese dude whom I met through dodgeball and our conversation went like this:
Me: So you’re Vietnamese…which Vietnamese restaurant in the city is the best?
Vietnamese dude: None
Vietnamese dude: You kind of forget and get used to how bad Vietnamese food in NYC is until you go to another city and realize how good it can be.
Okay so MAYBE there is a mysterious Vietnamese place out there in the outer boroughs that have an amazing pho or some random French fusion Vietnamese street food. Who knows? I’ll keep looking out there but, for now I went to Cong Ly and they had a solid Pho. Its right off Bowery at a very unassuming location recommended by a friend. The noodle and broth were great and I like that they had a Pho option with a sweet beef roll thing on the side. The noodles were definitely higher quality than other places I’ve been to off mulberry and mott st. Yes I still need to go to Vietnam and experience the real thing.
So the ultimate question is…are the noodles more important, or the broth, or the other misc thing that go into a Pho (cilantro, lime, tripe, beef, etc)??
Location: 6008 Seventh Avenue, Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Price: bun bo hue $6.25; spring roll vermicelli $4.00
Okay I admit that I’ve been drooling over Vietnamese food lately but, I just can’t help it. Especially after watching that No Reservations episode when Tony goes back to Vietnam for the second time, I had to find a soup close to what that lunch lady makes. So with the help and suggestion of my Brooklynite friend Jeesoo, we made a trip to the “other” chinatown known as Sunset Park. Thanh Da restaurant, looks like any restaurant located around 8th ave but, they serve one dish that no one else serves: THE bun bo hue.
This spicy soup dish with tender pork pieces, noodles, and a mix of vegetables is what this place is known for. The soup is very spicy but, has SO much flavor to it. Actually, I think that it was a good choice that we also got the spring roll vermicelli to balance the intense flavors of this hearty soup. The spring rolls were crispy and light with a bit of meat layered inside to create a nice balance with the very fresh vermicelli noodles all mixed in with fish sauce.
I’m sure these are nothing like what you can find in Vietnam but, it certainly makes me want to go to Vietnam even more. Maybe once I move to back to Brooklyn I can at least take more trips to Sunset park and find more places to satisfy my Vietnamese food cravings.
Location: 138 Mott Street (South of Grand St.)
Price: $3.75 – $4.25 for sandwiches
I think I have this weird conditioning where whenever I goto chinatown, I start craving banh mi sandwiches. I’ve made way too many excuses to walk, bike, or take train to Chinatown to get my fill of these Vietnamese street food sandwich creations that beats any sandwich in NY for the value and taste. Heck, I used to bike to Chinatown from Bushwick, Brooklyn to get my fix…and everyone knows that ride up Williamsburg bridge ain’t that easy. SO, I had to do a write up of at least one of my favorite places: Banh Mi Saigon Bakery. My favorite part about this place is that it happens to be located at Mott St. inside at the back of a jewelry store.
The jewelry store thing isn’t the only thing going for it…they have lightning fast service, delicious baguette, and have ample fresh vegetables on the sandwich. I feel like I’m getting my weekly supply of vegetables every time I eat one of these. I love also that their bbq pork in the sandwich has a bit of a crispier and sweeter texture to it to enhance the overall flavor.
The only bad part about this place is that it closes pretty early and at that point I usually have to settle for Paris Sandwich, Banh Mi So, or head back up to Baoguette or Little Nicky’s. Glad I have so many options to choose from, I’m just glad I don’t have cravings for the meatball Banh Mi from Sunset Park, Brooklyn on a regular basis.