The place looks great when you go in2. They decorated the place with different photographs of Saigon and Hanoi and it has a good modern Asian feel to it.
They give you some complimentary chips, which were nice. I think they call this kropek or something, but that’s beside the point. I actually expected these to be soggy and chewy, which is a trademark of all free chips that are usually served.
For starters, you can go the fried or the fresh route. The Cha Gio is your basic fried spring rolls with ground pork, shrimp, taro, and black fungus served with a Nuoc Mam dipping sauce. Suffice to say, you can’t taste shit. It had a bit of a twist with the wrapped greens, but nothing exciting to it. PLUS, for 190 bucks, each spring roll was smaller than a Vienna sausage.
If you feel like eating like a rabbit, go for the Goi Cuon3 instead. First of all, it wasn’t that attractive. Second, you can’t taste anything as well. Seriously bland. It was all vermicelli noodles and that pretty much filled you up just at the first course. Third, the sauce (which I loved back in Vietnam) just wasn’t up to par. One of the measures of Vietnamese cuisine are their wrapped dishes so I had to try it.
Suffice to say, I’d skip the appetizers. They’re just not very appetizing.
Their House Iced Tea was not my favorite thing. I’d pay for this again only if I win the lottery tomorrow. Or if I win a trip to the moon.
We ordered one of their more popular dishes, Ga Nuong, which is grilled chicken in rich lemongrass marinade. Fairly ordinary4, but tastes good! I liked the sauce. It’s simple, a bit ordinary but pretty solid. Good enough to save the meal so far.
But I really came here for the noodles.
Mom got the Pho Hai San. The menu said their seafood pho is a “great choice” for the seafood lover. Let’s just say it’s not a great choice and I would probably hate seafood after eating this. I would’ve settled for bland or flavorless or something else, but this was incredibly inedible that Mom had trouble finishing this. Shitty broth and crappy ingredients5. So yeah, never again.
The dish I was really looking forward to was the Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong. I’ve professed my love for rice noodles served with spring rolls and grilled pork for the longest time now, but I have to say I was disappointed. I know I was probably too hyped about this but it was like a bad fake DVD. Shitty knock-off with bad video and choppy graphics.
The real star of the show was the Pho Bo. But let me qualify. I visited Ba Noi’s twice. The first time around, it was awesome. The smell was so good and the condiments reminded me of Vietnam6.
Then you had this beefy broth and actual raw beef7, I was sold. Good enough for me to go back a second time!
Unfortunately, the smell was gone the second time around. The broth was basically shit with a handful of MSG and probably little else. So yeah, I fucked up here.
Everything looked and seemed great at first glance but at the end of the day, it’s all like a bad Photoshopped FHM cover. Suffice to say, I’m never going back.