It’s been a long time since I tried a place completely unknown (to me) in Eden Center. With no idea what the menu is like, I chose Hoang Viet in the Saigon West mall entrance which looks like it’s been there for a long time despite having a new sign facing the parking plaza.
We chose banh xeo, chopped clams on sesame cracker, and a crab and tomato soup.
The banh xeo was the best I’ve had: a huge crepe cooked crispy with a generous filling of bean sprout, onion, shrimp, and sliced pork. The clams had a lot of nice balanced components and were served on a very fresh tasting and large sesame cracker. This was already an impressive meal.
The soup did not have crab meat (I wasn’t expecting any) but a kind of detrius scraped from crab shells. The soup also had some blocks of pork blood, but these did not taste iron-y as I’ve had before. All things considered, a very pleasant aromatic flavor, but unfortunately it came with egg noodles that were the equivalent of bad spaghetti. Go for the bowls with rice noodles.
My impression is there are some gems among the bowls of soup. I will plan on going back soon.
I was first introduced to this dish - bun rieu cua - by a couple of American friends (long-time residents in France) at a Vietnamese eatery in Paris Chinatown in 2001. At the time, I didn’t know what the dish was called, and my friends simply nicknamed it “red pho”. It was one of the best noodle dishes I’d ever tasted!
It was only 5 years later, when I was in Saigon on a business trip, that I came across it again at Ben Thanh Market - and the version there tasted even better!
Thanks so much for the info, hoping to go to Vietnam, but might be 3 years down the road. This is a picture of what I was served. I’ve had bun rieu before, this was relatively subtle in flavor. I appreciated it very much but I really must remember to stick with rice noodles!
They have a breakfast section of the menu, and from that I chose the Bó Né Special which is two slices of beef, a chicken meatball, and a slice of pork paté with a fried egg. It is presented sizzling hot on an iron platter, served with a whole baguette. It winds up being a lot of food.
There is a bit of sauce involved which is light and faintly sweet. You will have to use the chili paste at the table to liven it up, and I chose the black chili paste (there is also a red). It brought some nice gentle heat and flavor into the mix.