Restaurant Review: Huong Vietnamese Restaurant
Huong Vietnamese Restaurant is back. Of course, not everyone knew Huong was missing. It takes a certain sort of commitment to hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese joints to have noticed that the restaurant was MIA from the dining scene as the chef recovered from an injury.
But, it’s open for business and back at full speed. The tables are filled with people from across the cultural and socio-economic spectrum. Metal utility carts wheel to and from the kitchen, laden with orders for hungry guests. Things are back to normal.
The menu is huge. Big enough that it’s a good idea for a first-timer to do some research before entering the doors. If you don’t have time to do the research, get the crepes ($8.10).
Having experienced more than enough disappointing crepes in this world, these were worth the risk of one-more-try. First, the house crepes have crunchy edges and uncommonly savory flavor, and the folded crepe is fully laden with sizable fried shrimp, bean sprouts and lean mini-strips of pork. Served with giant leaves of romaine and fish sauce, the crepes are truly best enjoyed unadulterated.
And about that fish sauce. It’s a companion piece for many of the menu options. You can try it, but unless you have acquired a taste for fish sauce in advance, sampling it will be a learning experience you will regret with vivid flashbacks for days afterward. It is quite flavorful, in the sense that it is “full of flavor” — the flavor of fermented, acrid fish.
Those crepes, though. They’re #39A on the menu. Remember that number.
For those with more time to wander through the menu in a conventional fashion, the appetizer list would be the place to start. You can score delicate rice paper-wrapped spring rolls or Goi Cuon Tom Thit (#2, $2.95). They’re filled with a balanced mix of stretchy noodles, pork, shrimp, and served with a peanut sauce that gives them extra heft and depth.
From there, maybe a Bun Mang Moc (#27, $8.50 — pictured at top). It’s a collection of random interesting things. There’s a mild chicken-based broth; a big, boney pork hock; something described as pork and ham meatballs that is more like slices of a super-pale, super-fine meatloaf; a bonus shard of roasted chicken (not mentioned on the menu, but I swear it was there); jalapeños, bamboo, sprouts, and basil; and lots of wiggly vermicelli. There’s a great deal going on in this combo. The broth ties it together fairly successfully and makes it all work as a soup. That said, there never seemed to be much of anything to do with that pork hock.
There’s also a variety of Banh Mi (#37) sandwich options. The one with grilled chicken ($7) works well with the requisite pate and a bevy of super-crunchy veggies that include carrots, cucumber, cilantro, and spiked jalapeño slices. It’s generously portioned and served in a long split bun.
There’s a lot more to explore on the menu… Vietnamese beverages, vegan options and lots more pho — one of the few soups that is enjoyable in the warmer summer months. You can find it at 1270 Morse Rd. The restaurant is open open daily for lunch and dinner, but closed on Tuesdays.
For more information, visit huongvr.blogspot.com.