Tuesday, June 8, 2010
New Vietnamese Joint in So. Po. Hits the Spot!
Whats up folks? Seth here, guest blogging. Why? I had to let you know about the new Vietnamese restaurant that just opened up at 171 Ocean st. in South Portland. Last week I was riding my bike through South Portland and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a new sign for a place called Pho Hanoi. (I have great peripheral vision, particularly for all you can eat buffets, large carnivorous predators, and Asian restaurants.) I'm a big fan of both Tan Tan and Saigon but I was very excited that another Vietnamese place was opening in our city. So yesterday afternoon I checked out the menu posted on their door to make sure they would be open that night. I noticed a couple of "special combination plates" of bun and rice with no further description. This intrigued me, I was intrigued and compelled and by the time Jenner got home from work I was hungry! First late me state with absolute authority that you with not find better more attentive wait service in any restaurant in the greater Portland area. This seems to be a common trait of Vietnamese places here in Portland, this winter one of the waitresses at Saigon, literally, kissed my wife on the cheek while serving her pho. The two servers at Hanoi were great and checked in with us often about our beverage and food status. The menu is considerable and I was pleased to see some offerings not available at Portland's established Vietnamese joints. For apps Jenner and I had the shredded pork skin spring roll, which was texturally a bit strange due to the pork skin but super tasty. We also tried the fried egg rolls. I'm gonna put it all on the line her and say that they were the best Vietnamese style fried spring rolls I've had in Portland. That' right, I said it! Jenner got the chicken pho as her main and it certainly rivals the pho at both Tan Tan and Saigon (although it did not have the pronounced anise flavor favored by some). The pieces of chicken swimming in the broth were particularly tender. I could not help myself, I had to have the "mystery" combination bun plate listed only as "Special Combination Vermicelli Bowl." I asked the waitress what was in it but I don't understand accents so well. I did take away from our conversation that something was wrapped around something. In spite of not being exactly sure what was in the dish I ordered it anyway. And, Ladies and gentlemen, I was not disappointed, turns out the dish is contains a shrimp paste that is hand molded onto pieces of bamboo. The special combination also had grilled pork and grilled chicken which both had a wonderful char grill flavor to them. All the accompanying veggies were super fresh and the basil, in particular, stood out. When we had finished and were leaving the chief had come out from behind the line and he asked us how our dinner had been. Accolades. I should mention that the space is basic but pleasant. I had my take out menu in hand and I plan to use it frequently.