[San Jose] Vietnam Town- what's good to eat here?

#1

After the meal at Phu Quy,

I went strolling around Vietnam Town. I haven’t eaten anywhere inside the giant mall. Curious if there are any current favorites?

Bun Rieu Cua Tan Dinh is about to open. Bun rieu specialist? I have to go when they open. I haven’t had a stellar bun rieu around the Bay Area.


Copycat Little lamb?

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#2

I’m a huge fan of Pho Ha Noi (apologies for any missing accents). From what I observe, most people order their pho bo (which I haven’t tried), but I really like their pho ga, especially with their fresh noodles (they’re the soft silky kind). The soup has a deep, clean flavor. I also think their mem cua be (fried spring rolls with vermicelli noodles, herbs and lettuce, item #1 on the menu) are delicious. To my taste, equal to the ones I had in Ha Noi.

I don’t live close enough to do a full exploration of places in that mall. But my sense is that one could walk around at lunchtime or dinnertime on a Saturday and observe where the crowds are and get a good idea for what places to prioritize. Note that parking there can get ridiculous on weekends.

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#3

I hear good things about the “Rotisserie chicken w/ burnt sticky rice” at Banh Cuon Saigon, a newish place in Vietnam Town.
photo from Yelp:

Mom reports that their banh cuon (rolled rice crepes) was decent and the toppings were good with a special mention that the sweet potato w/ shrimp fritter was quite good. Those can also be ordered by themselves to wrap with lettuce and herbs:

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(Kathy Ramsey) #4

That burnt sticky rice is calling my name!!

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#5

Good to know. I was originally thinking about giving the pho ga from Pho Ga Nha across the street in Dynasty Plaza a try next time I am in the area. Have you tried Pho Ga Nha before? If so, I am curious how you think they compare.

I have heard that, though I haven’t braved the crowds to find out myself. How ridiculous?

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#6

I haven’t tried Pho Ga Nha. Maybe I’ll have to do a mini pho ga crawl next time I’m in the area!

My guess is that there will probably need to be twice as much parking as there is currently once the mall is in full swing. I have a suspicion that the construction at the back will be a parking structure that will eventually fix this, but that’s purely guesswork.

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#7

When I was there a couple of weeks ago there was a parking structure at the back. I don’t know if that’s new, however.

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#8

Luke Tsai’s last article for San Francisco Magazine is about Vietnamese food in San Jose’s Vietnam Town and the adjacent Grand Century Mall.

Vit Dong Que
duck that’s poached whole until it’s tender, cut into slices and served cold as a salad over a bed of cabbage and herbs
1143 Story Road, Ste. 190

Com Tam Thien Huong
broken rice
1111 Story Road, Ste. 1086

*Pho Ha Noi San Jose
969 Story Road, Ste. 6048

Pho Papa
1611 E. Capitol Expressway

Dac Phuc Vietnamese Cuisine
198 W. Santa Clara St.*

*LA Sandwiches
6005 Snell Ave.

Huong Lan Sandwich
1655 Tully Road*

Saigon Kitchen
excerpt:

…restaurant’s signature dish, ca quay dua xiem da gion, a whole catfish that is butterflied, then deep-fried and topped with chopped peanuts, scallions and shredded coconut. You dip rounds of thin, translucent rice paper in water, then pile on a miniburrito’s worth of the fish’s golden-crisp skin and tender flesh, fresh herbs, and two different sauces—a typical fish-sauce-based nuoc mam, as well as a pungent, spicy mam nem made with pineapple and fermented fish. Wrap everything up in a tight little bundle, eat and—with great joy—repeat.
1111 Story Road, Ste. 1005

*The Sweet Corner
989 Story Road, Ste. 8039

Nuoc Mia Vien Dong 2
979 Story Road, Ste. 7096*

image

Vit Dong Que’s specialities include bánh bèo (left), whole-poached duck (center) and bánh nam (top right), a rice-flour-and-ground-pork dumpling that’s steamed inside banana leaves.

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SF Magazine, photo by Andria Lo

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#9

Luke Tsai sure goes out (of SF Magazine) with a bang. There are so many good tips on restaurants there I want to go asap. Hopefully he’ll continue to write articles like these at Eater.

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#10

I usually grab pho bo fro Pho Ha Noi, but I recently had their pho ga (with chicken thigh) and was impressed with both the free-range chicken used and the clean tasting broth. I’d definitely have it again if I’m not in the mood for beef.

I also like Tea Lyfe, a boba shop that uses Straus half/half for its drinks and prepares its drinks stronger, more concentrated than average. It’s enough to keep me up at night.

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#11

This is the pho ga I recently had at Pho Ha Noi. Not visible in the shot are the fresh ribbon noodles sitting below the surface.

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#12

That looks so good. You know they care when they put a ridiculous amount of chopped green onions in the bowl. Even by the picture it looks like the chicken is top quality.

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#13

I just had the pho dac biet at Pho Ha Noi yesterday. Almost my perfect idea of what pho should taste like. They even had the superior thick steak cuts (unlike the ubiquitious thin cuts). I prefer my pho not clear, but more fatty with globules of oil/fat collecting around the rim of the bowl, so I might try to order a fatty broth and see if they’ll comply with that.
Otherwise this place is legit in my book. Though I find Vietnam Town a bit unsettling and creepy, like what I imagine “Paris town” or “America town” to feel like in China.

I also have a perfectly good banh mi combination sandwich at the food-to-go next to Pho Ha (not Ha Noi). Had the left over half today and the bread maintained its softness. Maybe a little too much meat, but a nice amount of Viet mayo, and I wish it had a stronger tasting liverwurst.

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#14

Pho places will serve you the fat skimmed from the the top of the stock pot. Ask for “nuoc beo” . (pronounced more like “bell” or the “beo” in “Beowulf” and not like the abbreviation b.o.)

(not my pic - sample photo off Google images)
image

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#15

I don’t know how they are like during the weekends. But its a virtual ghost town during the weekdays in the section of the mall that’s occupied by vendors. And a literal ghost town in the section of the mall that’s still yet to be rent/ sold. Kinda like a masterplan community gone awry. The way the large blockish buildings make the entryways/ walkways look really dark too.

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#16

Thanks for the tip! If you ever try the pho ga across the street at Pho Ga Nha, do share what you think about it. That was some delicious pho ga also. I’d love to try the pho ga at Ha Noi next time I am in the area.

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#17

Strangely the parking lot is near full even with the ghost town vibe. If they ever fill up the empty office fronts on the second level with tenants, I don’t know how they’ll manage all those cars.

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