Please note: This post isn’t about pho. Or The Slums of Beverly Hills.
We had a really enjoyable dinner there last night. Our first time. I’m a sucker for a parking lot and no waiting so that was 2 points right there. It’s bright, spacious, quiet. Nice mix of families with little kids, post-teen couples holding hands, and us.
Us: One spice-averse hungry old guy and one heat-loving STARVING old lady
Cranky levels: Moderate, mostly due to having the Repub debate on in the car on the drive over from the old lady’s office.
Yelpers complained this place was too fast, no time to look at the menu, etc. For us, not a problem because my husband gently but firmly said he needed a few minutes and it was a good pace thereafter. What he DID like was the immediate bringing of water, answers to questions. This is a place we went to eat, not to dine, so we actually appreciated the promptness with the iced and hot tea we ordered. Our server was helpful and a manager (I guess) checked in to see if were liking stuff.
We shared the fresh rolls with prawns to start. They were better than others I’ve had in Berkeley and Le Cheval. Fresher rice-paper wrappers, for one, and with more flavor from the prawns, cucumbers, and mint. Also the peanut sauce was…just better, especially when I added the house chili sauce.
Mr. Snaxx had the grilled pork combo rice plate with prawns that disappeared fast. It worked for him.
I had Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio, a rice noodle bowl with grilled pork, egg rolls, pickled carrot/daikon, cucumber, bean sprouts, lettuce, mint, peanuts, and fish sauce. My go-to but there are a million ways it can be loused up, from pre-grilled pork that’s dry, to old and clumpy vermicelli, to wet lettuce, to fish sauce that tastes like it was made in huge batches, very far away, a long time ago. But this bowl – no problems. Still-sizzling pork covered in green onion and shallots, fresh noodles, crisp egg rolls, and fish sauce that was great even before I added the house chili sauce.
Our bill was around $30.00 before tip and we were there for a little over an hour. For a weeknight dinner, it works really well for us: delicious, relaxing, good value. (Context: We went to Saul’s on Monday night to hear Klezmer music (it was great) but dropped $70+ for meals we thought were just shy of sending back. Nice people but service was all over the place.)
Sadly, one soup they don’t have is Canh chua tôm (hot and sour soup with prawns) but that’s to be expected, I guess, as that’s South Vietnamese and this place is largely North. I still really miss my SF place (now closed) on Clement, Minh’s Garden. They had both my noodle bowl and the soup.