Tag Archives: banh cuon

Vietnam Restaurant

My wife and I hit this place before catching a bus back from Philly. Generic name aside, this place was pretty good at satisfying our cravings for Viet food.

We started with an order of banh cuon; rice noodle crepes rolled with ground chicken, mushrooms and herbs, served with a tangy, sweet and savory fish sauce and bean sprouts.

This is one of my wife’s favorite Vietnamese dishes, so we pretty much always try to order it if we see it on a menu. This one was pretty good, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve both had better.

Next were a pair of soups.

First, the classic beef pho noodle soup, with thinly sliced eye round beef (my go-to Viet soup of choice).

This packed a good amount of flavor, but, again, we have had better. Nonetheless, this bowl was still better than good portion of NYC Viet joints, which are known to suck on the whole.

Second soup: My wife had bun bo hue, which is typically a spicy lemongrass pork- and variety meat- based soup that contains everything from tripe to congealed pork blood.

This version had brisket as opposed to all that offal. It was still super spicy and had a great lemongrass kick to it. Also, the noodles were good. Lots of times the noodles used in this style of soup get too soggy and overcooked. These held up nice to strict scrutiny.

I still liked the pho better, but that’s a subjective thing for me. I think, objectively speaking, the bun bo hue was the better bowl here, even though it was dumbed down and “Americanized” a bit to avoid the use of offal meat.

221 N 11th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Nha Trang Centre

I am stuck waiting to see whether I have to serve on a jury down here, but the plus side is that there are some decent cheap eats joints nearby in Chinatown.

This is my second or third time eating here. My wife and I used to live around the block from about 2006-2009, and during that time was probably the last time we went.

NTC sign

I grabbed two of my four standard favorite Vietnamese items for lunch: pho and banh cuon. The other two are summer rolls (goi cuon) and spring rolls (cha gio).

The pho was a bit lacking in flavor. I missed the robust punch that should be associated with the broth. The noodles and beef were both of good quality though, and both the basil and the bean sprouts were nice and fresh. I generally order the Pho Tai, which contains just slides eye round meat, not the beef balls, tendon, tripe or brisket. So that could be why the broth was less flavorful. However I doubt they use different cooking vessels to create the base pho stock/broth, so diner beware.

NTC pho crop

The banh cuon, on the other hand, was pretty good. For those who don’t know what this is, the menu calls it “Vietnamese ravioli.” It’s wide, flat rice noodles that are rolled or filled with seasoned chopped meat inside – typically pork – and then topped with fish sauce, crispy fried onion, scallions, and thick slices of a processed kind of pork roll that’s similar to a bologna style lunch or deli meat. That description may sound weird to your western eyes/ears, but I assure you it’s good. Here, it was served on top of bean sprouts and some chopped lettuce.

NTC banh cuon

Those two items, plus a beer, came to $21 with tax and tip included. Pretty great.

I was so pumped on the fact that I was back down in our old neighborhood with easy access to cheap Vietnamese food that I went back for dinner. There was this pork rice dish that caught my eye while I was there: Com Suon Bi Cha.

NTC pork

NTC egg cake

This is barbecued pork chop, shredded pork and steamed egg cake with white rice. The shredded pork was a mixture of gelatinous bits and roast pork, which go nicely with the rice for texture. The thin-sliced BBQ pork was delicious and exactly what I expected. It was tasty and had no gristled fat, with an awesome lemongrass and charred grill flavor. The rice was a tiny grain that absorbed the fish sauce nicely, and the egg cake contained a mash of what I assume was fish sauce and more ground pork meat. It came with carrots, bean sprouts, cucumber and tomato.

I also grabbed an order each of Cha Gio.

NTC spring rolls

NTC spring roll wrapped

The spring rolls were crispy. I think they had more mushroom and veggies than pork inside, but I didn’t mind because all the fixings were nice and fresh. You wrap these fuckers in lettuce and then fill with cucumber, pickled daikon, carrot and mint leaves. Then you dip that shit in fish sauce and hot sauce. Delicious.

And that’s it. Tomorrow I’ll be hitting either another Vietnamese joint or a dumpling place. Nha Trang Centre is definitely good for a Vietnamese food fix. I’d skip the pho, but the other stuff is good.

148 Centre St
New York, NY 10013


My wife and I went to this Chelsea location with a Groupon deal. While the food doesn’t really look pretty, we both agreed that it was good. We started with lemongrass crusted fried tofu. The texture was similar to a silken tofu style that you might find in a miso soup, but a bit more structured.


We also had a duck salad. I was hoping the duck would be more crispy. It felt at times that the bits of duck were chewy or overcooked, but the salad was a nice crisp cabbage base that was dressed with a sour fish sauce.


For me, the star of the meal was this clay pot pork belly stew with potato, tofu and egg. Sometimes these can get too salty, but this was just right. The broth was nice with rice as well.


Last, we tried a noodle dish that ended up being similar to banh cuon, even though it was called something completely different on the menu. It had grilled pork, bologna style ham, cucumbers, bean sprouts, cilantro and flat, wide noodles. It was dressed in fish sauce. The meats were excellent and the noodles were perfectly cooked:


110 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10011

Pho Vietnam

This little spot is currently my new favorite Vietnamese food joint. It’s nice and clean inside, new-looking, and the food is really tasty. My wife and I tried a few items as a base level test run to decide if we would come back.

The pho: very flavorful, a good size, fresh ingredients. In fact they keep a jar of sliced jalapeños right there on the table next to the chopsticks, spoons, napkins, hoisin and sri racha.




The banh mi sandwich: nice and traditional, great bread, lots of filling and at least a foot long.



Next, one of my wife’s favorites: banh cuon. Really good quality shit here. Nicely cooked noodles, ample filling inside, and good slices meats and herbs.


Last was my noodle dish that had cut up spring rolls and sliced lemongrass BBQ pork chop on top. Simple and delicious.


We will definitely be coming back for more. Sit tight until then, when I can supplement the review with more deliciousness.

Okay so here’s the update as of 2/7/15:

Unfortunately this trip was not as good as the last. The avocado shake was less avocado-et, the banh cuon had grainy noodles.

pho vietnam banh cuon

The other two dishes we ordered contained meat that was a bit chewy.

I grabbed the bun bo hue, wanting to sample the more authentic flavors of this dish as opposed to the more fusion style of Obao.

pho vietnam menu

For $7.50 you get a shitload of food. The bowl is huge:

pho vietnam bun bo hue 2

The unfortunate thing about my order, however, was that the noodles were too soft (perhaps overcooked) and most of the meat was very chewy. For a stewed type dish I was hopping for softer meats.

pho vietnam bun bo hue

I had the same issue with the pork casserole, or clay pot pork. The meat was pretty chewy, but the flavor was good.

pho vietnam pork


Egg rolls are decent.


The avocado shake was not as sweet or rich/flavorful as other times I’ve had it:


But my wife had a decent cup of Vietnamese coffee:


87 Chrystie St.
New York, NY 10002

Thai Son

This was our old standby for Vietnamese food in the old neighborhood. It’s not the best around, but on average it was better for the things we ordered every time. Certain other places had items that we loved that were not on the menu here (like the avocado shake), but this place was cheap and consistent, so we frequented it pretty regularly. Some of the highlights: summer rolls, spring rolls, pho, banh cuon, and that wacky shredded ice drink with all the sweet beans, carrots and jelly thingies in it.




89 Baxter St.
New York, NY 10013