Anh Hong, which I had removed from my list of recommended Vietnamese restaurants, is back on its game and back on the list. Have the fall rolls (unfried, with pork) for an appetizer and choose one of the pho soups or the rice noodle feasts.
1216 E. Colonial Drive
Banh mi basically means bread, and just like the Louisiana po’boy or just about any other sub sandwich you can name, the bread is the key element. It is essentially a mini baguette — the banh mi’s roots stem from the French colonization. I could describe to you what a perfect baguette for a banh mi would look and taste like, but instead, just go to Banh Mi Nha Trang and see for yourself.
BMNT is a well-hidden little shop among the many other Vietnamese owned and focused businesses in in the Mills 50 district. The tiny storefront is tucked inside an alcove of about a dozen shops. The signage is not great — I walked past it twice while trying to find it. And once you’re inside, it doesn’t look much like a restaurant. It’s almost like a slapdash operation or a pop-up sandwich shop.
Banh mi is all that the shop does, and when they’re this good there’s little reason for it to do anything else. What’s more, the sandwiches are all just $3.50. I challenge you to find a better sandwich of any type that is a better value in town.
505 State Road 436
The website for Four Guys Pho says that the Vietnamese restaurant is also the project of brothers, though no names are offered. And when I called the restaurant to ask, the gentleman who answered the phone said that if I wanted to know their names I would have to come to the restaurant because he wasn’t authorized to give that information out over the phone.
Maybe it should be called the Soup of the Secretive Siblings.
Whatever. The food, especially the pho, was quite good when I visited recently.
1103 N. Mills Ave.
The name Hawkers makes sense once you know the concept, and it only sounds odd if pronounced by someone with a Boston accent.
The idea behind this charming little eatery is to present an array of dishes the type of which might be sold — hawked — by individuals who stake out space on the sidewalks and streets of various Asian cities but with, you know, stricter health department guidelines.
I’m resisting the urge to describe the dishes as tapas-like, but most of the menu items are “small plate” in nature. And the best way to experience Hawkers Asian Street Fare is the same as you would a tapeo, except instead of doing a tapas crawl, you might virtually wander these Asian streets and sample a number of delectable items. Try the banh mi sliders (I had the duck version; delicious) and the five spice pork choplettes. The curry Laksa is a wonderful and colorful bowl of myriad flavors with chicken, shrimp and big fat egg noodles.
595 W. Church St.
The owners of a new Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Orlando named it Le House because they wanted customers to feel as if they were dining at their home. I can’t attest to that authenticity, but I can say that I certainly felt welcomed and accommodated on my visit, even if I wasn’t offered the guest room.
The menu here is more succinct than at other Vietnamese restaurants. Pho is available, as it must be at all local Vietnamese restaurants, apparently by law. But Le House’s menu has a manageable 10 entries instead of the three or four dozen you might be asked to negotiate elsewhere.
1106 E. Colonial Drive
This was once the go-to place for Vietnamese cuisine. That’s partly because it was one of the first to introduce Central Florida to the phos and other specialties of (mostly) South Vietnam. If this is a longtime favorite of yours, it’s probably because you’ve found something you like that they do with consistency. Good for you. Newcomers who scour the menu with a fine-tooth comb may not like what they find. Quality has flagged a bit over the last few years; I do not endorse this restaurant with the enthusiasm I once did.
12058 Collegiate Way
On a recent lunch visit, I started with the golden pancake appetizer, which was really more of an omelet than a pancake, with shrimp and bean sprouts folded into it. It was light and qualified as an appropriate starter.
For my entree I chose pho tai nam, a beef soup with sliced rare beef (not rare for long as the hot broth finishes the cooking). It also had long rice noodles, bean sprouts and chopped scallions. What it didn’t have was a separate plate of add-ables — extra spouts, basil, jalapeno and lime wedges, such as are offered at most other pho restaurants in town. It was OK, the soup was fine without them, but I thought it strange. Soups, by the way, are available in two sizes: large and extra large. The large is plenty.
8475 S. John Young Parkway
Maybe it’s just me, but when I see a place called P’s VietMí Café I have questions. First, who or what is P? And what is VietMí? The café part I was able to figure out on my own.
3334 Curry Ford Road
Basic Vietnamese fare. Fewer choices than in some other pho-eries, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
4724 Millenia Plaza Way
Second location for a Tampa restaurant with decent Vietnamese cuisine.