Category Archives: Vietnamese

Monsieur Vo

First, check out my Ride & Review HERE:

I finally got over to Jimmy & Yen’s husband restaurant to Madame Vo, aptly named Monsieur Vo. All I can say is… WOW!

We started with this incredible beef tartare made from rib eye!

Fried soft shell crab egg drop soup? Hell yes! I absolutely loved this. it also had corn and asparagus in it. really tasty! Big thanks to The Cake Dealer for snapping some of these pics that I’m using here…

These prawns served over steamed rice cake crepe type thingies were also delicious, and perfectly cooked, I might add. Tons of flavor.

We also tried their dry chicken pho dish, which is made with juicy chicken thigh, crispy chicken skin, and lots of herbs and spices. It will hit you with both sweet and savory together in perfect harmony. I loved it!

The star of the show for me was the beef shank in bun bo hue (spicy lemongrass) sauce.

This thing is enormous. We got the sice that’s meant for 4-6 people, just so you know.

It was fall-apart tender, juicy and crazy flavorful.

This is definitely up there with some of my favorite “beast feasts.” You need to try it!

For dessert, their toasted rice ice cream over flan with boba was the perfect ending to an incredible meal.

I was really excited to learn that Golden Packing supplies most of their meat proteins too! Love those guys! Best in the biz.

I can’t wait to go back and try more stuff.

MONSIEUR VO
104 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Ama Raw Bar

First, check out my awesome Ride & Review video for this joint HERE:

Ama Raw Bar has two locations. I met my wife here for happy hour at the alphabet city location to try some of their cocktails and discounted bites. Everything was good. We started with oysters ($1.25ea).

Then we moved on to this nice batter-fried shrimp.

This rice paper chicken quesadilla was unique, but I think it would be excellent if they fried the rice paper wrapper.

The cod cake was nice, a different sort of take on a crab cake using salt cod.

The Szechuan dry rub wings needed a hit of salt and some of that mala numbing spice to really make them perfect. Otherwise, good cook and crunch on them.

“Luscious Mussels” come with a broiled lobster tail and nori fries. These were probably our favorite dish of the night.

Definitely would go back to try the lobster ramen, and also perhaps to try their other west village location.

AMA RAW BAR
190 Avenue B
New York, NY 10009

Cloud

Cloud is a new Vietnamese place in the lower east side. After some drinks and snacks nearby, my wife and I decided to pop in to give a few items a try, particularly their coffee selections and their avocado shake.

We started with their non-traditional take on banh xeo, which was more like a pita bread cone with all the flavors of banh xeo inside. It wasn’t bad!

Then, we tried a soup called banh canh, which was almost like a cross between pho flavors and some Chinese noodle soups we used to get up in Hell’s Kitchen. I enjoyed it.

On the flip side, we didn’t like the egg coffee because it was laden with cooked egg particles. It wasn’t mixed in properly to make for smooth texture. I actually asked them for something to strain it with. After that, it was better.

Their peanut butter coffee was delicious, however.

The avocado shake needed some more sweetened condensed milk, but otherwise was nice.

I’m sure eventually I’ll try the banh mi and pho to fill out this review a bit more.

CLOUD
79 Clinton St
New York, NY 10002

Essex Pearl

This place is incredible!

My wife and I have been dying to come here ever since we saw them setting up shop at Market Line soon after we moved in. It’s a beautiful seafood bar, done up really fancy as a place you’d love to just sit and have a cocktail, but also with open view to the kitchen and prep stations for all the delicious food.

We tried a lot of shit, so let me get right into it.

Raw littleneck clams topped with crispy shallots and a fish sauce mignonette. Perfect way to open up the meal. Pair this with their pickled ginger, shochu and gin martini.

Dry aged rib eye tartare, coarse cut. So tender and flavorful! The shrimp chips make for a perfect vehicle for mouth entry, and they add a great textural crunch.

Cumin lamb belly skewers. I really loved these. If you love cumin lamb noodles at places like Xian Famous, you need to try this. It’s LAMB BACON!

Tiger prawns. You’ll want to drink the sauce! This item was the whole reason my wife wanted to go, and it really delivered. It was her favorite dish (along with the hamachi collar).

Crispy baby octopus with Thai lemongrass curry and fried Thai basil. Ask for a small bowl of rice so none of that curry goes to waste!

The grilled pork jowls were next. This was probably my favorite of the meal. It comes with a lime pepper sauce that acts like a Carolina style vinegar BBQ sauce, almost, but Asian style as lime and pepper are common in places like Vietnam and Cambodia. It cuts the fat of the jowls so perfectly I can’t even describe it properly!

Turmeric dill hamachi collar. This is so delicious and large, it’s enough to share among two people. Light, flavorful, and amazingly aromatic.

Laotian ginger pork sausage over garlic noodles. WOW! The sausage is made in house and it’s so fucking good!

We washed it all down with this watermelon and lychee slushee. So refreshing and just the right amount of natural sweetness.

I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the menu, especially their surf and turf!

ESSEX PEARL
88 Essex Street
Cellar Level
New York, NY 10002

Banh Mi Co Ut

This little Vietnamese sandwich joint in Chinatown serves up some of the best I’ve had. The bread really sets this place apart from the rest.

At this point, I’ve tried about six different kinds, and my favorite is the #4, the traditional sandwich but with SMOKED Viet ham rather than regular. I also like to order with hot peppers and extra cilantro. They don’t charge!

BANH MI CO UT
83 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10013

Pho Tau Bay

After two previous visits to New Orleans I was dead-set on finally trying some Vietnamese food. This town has a large Vietnamese community, so I know the food will be good.

My wife and I picked this joint because it was the closest to our hotel that was actually open on New Year’s Day. It had nice ratings to boot. We started with a pair of Vietnamese drip coffees, which were excellent.

Next, we shared a banh mi sandwich – their signature “dac biet” special sandwich.

This was great. Just the right amount of filling, nice fresh French bread that didn’t rip my mouth apart from being too hard or crispy.

Then we had some soup. I had the large “dac biet” special bowl of beef pho. This was great for the price tag. It easily surpassed most of the pho I have access to here in NYC (obviously there are some big exceptions since NYC is finally getting some good Vietnamese food).

My wife had the bun bo hue, which I thought was a bit too pungent and overly fishy for my taste, but it was still good as far as this dish goes. Especially impressive were the noodles. The round, “thick spaghetti” style rice noodles typically used in this soup will often get overcooked and become mushy. Then they break easily when you grab them with chopsticks, which is a pain in the ass. But these were perfect.

Give this place a shot when you’re down here.

PHO TAU BAY
1565 Tulane Ave
New Orleans, LA 70112

Just Pho

After reading some positive reviews of this Northern style Vietnamese pho restaurant, my wife and I rushed in to try it just as soon as we had some free time.

Contrary to the name of the restaurant, they DO serve more than just pho. They also serve some spring rolls. We tried pork and crab. Both were great. Light, crispy, not too greasy, and big on flavor.

They also serve fresh coconut juice.

We ordered two different bowls of soup; combination beef, and chicken with an added poached egg. Both size medium.

My favorite of the two was the beef.

It had a nice deep beefy flavor from their 15-hour broth making process, and it was chock full of rare, thinly-sliced eye round and brisket.

The noodles were cooked perfectly and had a nice snap and bite to them – unlike so many joints downtown that overcook them into a mush that falls apart as soon as you grasp them with your chopsticks.

While the beef was my favorite, I can see myself getting this velvety, eggy chicken pho on cold winter days. Check out this video as the egg yolk gets mixed in:

 

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I highly recommend this spot. Go give it a shot.

JUST PHO
252 W 31st St
New York, NY 10001

Phobar

This spot just took over the Char House location, which was an asian steakhouse (there’s another location by Washington Square Park too). The concept here is customizable bowls of pho with tableside boilers. You can even choose how rich your broth is, like some ramen joints offer; 8hrs, 16hrs, etc. My wife and I skipped that gimmicky stuff and went with some regular menu items instead.

For starters, we tried (1) the chili and tamarind sauce chicken wings; (2) the spicy chili oil pork knuckles; and (3) the spring rolls.

All three were great. The spring rolls were pretty standard in style and format (wrap them in lettuce with herbs and veg, then dip into fish sauce). The wings were delicious and crisp, with fried shallots on top. The pig knuckles were the stars of the starters though. Fork tender, jiggly, juicy, flavorful and spicy. I loved them. They reminded me of oxtail or braised chuck stew meat.

I had the surf and turf pho, which is beef broth with a half lobster and a nice big short rib on the bone. This is hefty at $25 for a bowl, but it really satisfies. Great broth and both the lobster and the short rib were perfect.

My wife had the bun bo hue, a spicy lemongrass pork and beef soup. It was delicious, and contained a ton of different meats within.

All in, this was $85 including tax and tip. High, but very tasty.

PHOBAR
43 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013

Madame Vo BBQ

The talented couple behind Madame Vo recently opened this joint as a way to introduce NYC to Vietnamese BBQ, which, from what I understand, is very popular in central Vietnam.

Be aware: this is not the same as American BBQ, which we all know is characterized by slow and low smoker cooking. This involves a high-heat metal mesh grill and various cuts of meat. Fast and hot, no smokers.

Also: this isn’t Korean or Japanese BBQ. While they use a similar cooking method with the grill, the flavors, preparations and beef items are obviously entirely different.

What’s really unique about Madame Vo BBQ, and what I feel sets Vietnamese BBQ apart from other grilled meat establishments, is that the traditional “Beef 7 Ways” or “Bò 7 Món” feast in Vietnamese culture really lends itself perfectly to this style of cooking.

So what is “Beef 7 Ways?” Sounds like a dream come true, right? It is. It’s also really not that difficult to figure out from its name.

“Beef 7 Ways” in Vietnamese cuisine is generally a large format family style meal where various cuts of beef are served, obviously, in seven different ways. Almost always this will involve some thin sliced beef that’s grilled or dipped in a hotpot broth. There will also almost assuredly be a spiced ground/minced beef application, often wrapped in a betel leaf. And surely there will be a finishing dish of some form of starch with beef. But all throughout, there are “summer roll” rice wrappers on the table – along with various veggies, herbs and even fruits – for you to wrap up with the beef as you eat your way through all seven courses.

Madame Vo has done a great job of elevating that traditional “Bò 7 Món” concept, refining it, and presenting it to New Yorkers in the familiar grill table format. Here’s how they present their version of “Beef 7 Ways:”

1st Way: Eye Round Carpaccio

This was great. I’ve always thought that eye round would be perfect for a carpaccio application. This Viet style carpaccio was so delicious. Great pops from the herbs, spices and sauce.

2nd Way: Meatballs

These are technically not beef; they’re pork. But delicious nonetheless, and still part of the seven.

3rd & 4th Ways: Ground Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf & Thin-Sliced Short Rib with Onion

These are both grilled, and the betel leaf rolls were my favorite of the seven courses. They have a great fresh green kick to them from the grilled leaf.

5th Way: Five-Spice Beef Tongue

This was awesome. They’re cooked through and make for the perfect filling in those rice wraps with veggies and herbs.

6th Way: Dry Aged Strip Steak with Marrow Butter

That marrow butter was absolute crack. Here’s a little video of it getting smeared on.

7th Way: Oxtail Congee

I really liked this. It was a close pick for my favorite of the meal.

Madame Vo BBQ offers this “Beef 7 Ways” for just $59/pp. I think that’s a great deal considering the quality of the beef, the amount you get, and of course the deliciousness of the whole experience.

We didn’t stop there, though. We also had some amazing seafood apps (not included with the “Beef 7 Ways”).

Giant Oyster with Uni Mayo

These things were huge, and that uni mayo was really addictive.

Maine Uni with Special Fish Sauce Beurre Blanc

Beautiful, sweet and delicious.

Grilled Prawns

These were nice and big. Tasty heads too!

BBQ Quail

The tamarind sauce on this really made it unique.

Short Rib & Marrow Spring Rolls

Loved these. I could eat a dozen easily.

And because I’m like a wild animal, I wanted more beef. We shared the Pat LaFrieda dry-aged tomahawk rib eye. At $95 for about 40oz, this is a steal.

Really beautifully presented too.

I highly recommend this place. Go with a group so you can try lots of stuff. Trust me – you won’t be disappointed!

MADAME VO BBQ
104 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Sai Gon Dep

Sai Gon Dep is a new pho-focused casual joint by acclaimed former Hanoi House chef John Nguyen. He’s a master at making pho – the best I’ve had outside of Vietnam.

While Hanoi House is focused on northern style beef soup, Sai Gon Dep focuses on southern style chicken soup from the region where John was born.

Although beef soup is still served here (as well as full-on 45-day dry-aged tomahawk chops, available only on weekends – 8/10) and other protein entrees are available on the menu, the main focus is on fowl.

They even have balut, for those looking for either an authentic or Zimmern-esque experience.

At $15 a bowl, these soups are a steal. The rich, hearty poultry flavor is like nothing else I’ve had. Not even the most rich paitan broths come close, and this soup eats much lighter than those salty sweat-bomb bowls at ramen shops.

While the noodles here come with shredded meat and an egg yolk in the broth, you can order a half or whole chicken to go with it.

Pull some meat off the bones and drag it through the ginger chicken fat oil and scallion sauce that accompany the dish, and munch away at the delicious bird between slurps of noodles… or just plop it into your soup.

Honestly, the broth alone is so soul-satisfying and delicious that you might not even need the additional meat. But if you do order the extra chicken, don’t be alarmed: you may get a plate of feet and heads along with your order. Nothing goes to waste here, just like where John was born in Vietnam. The entire bird is used, and that’s why the soup tastes so fucking great.

Keep an eye out. This place opens next week. I was there for a special media preview, and I can’t wait to start eating this more regularly. The chicken pho is a top dish of the year for me.

SAI GON DEP
719 Second Ave
New York, NY 10016