It’s No Vietnam, But Golden City Will Do In a Pinch


Around the end of the year, I’ve got an Asia trip planned. Over two and a half weeks, we’ll be visiting Vietnam, Hong Kong and dropping into the Philippines for a couple days for a wedding. We’ll have friends guiding us through the Chinese and Filipino food options, but in Vietnam, we’ll be on our own. So, in the name of research, I plan to spend the next two months familiarizing myself with the cuisine as much as I can within the confines of New York. Y’know, for science.

We all know that there’s precious little Vietnamese food to be found in Midtown, but Golden City/V33 (33rd Street between 5th and 6th) has been a go to place for me for some time. Last year, Zach was shocked to hear about it when I wrote about the Vietnamese options there, but never had a chance to follow up. Lately, I’ve gone back to try out some of the other dishes on the menu.

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Golden City serves a split menu of Chinese and Vietnamese food. They even have a take out buffet where you can pick up some of the Chinese options. Given how plentiful Chinese food is around town, I’ve never bothered to try it out. How could I when the pork chops beckoned to me so?


The pork chops really are my favorite dish here. The chunks of thin sliced pork, charred at the edges call to me so much that it always takes a little effort to order anything else.


The pork chops are available with rice (white, brown or fried) or in Bun, as a topping for a bowl of long angel hair noodles with pickled veggies.

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Exploring the menu a bit, I tried the grilled beef with fried rice. When I got the plate, I was a little disappointed that it only came with eight or nine relatively small pieces of beef. When I tried them, however, I discovered that each piece of beef is actually a tightly coiled roll of flattened beef. They are dense and slightly tough and packed with sweet and salty flavor. The sauce mixes well with the fried rice and even though the beef was gone quickly, but left me full enough that I didn’t feel ripped off.


The squid, chili and lemongrass with fried rice ($7.45) surprised me with how tender the squid was. At a place like this, I expected tough chewy calamari tossed in sauce, but it was actually pretty good and they didn’t skimp on the squid either. The chili sauce was sweet and thick, providing some heat, but not too much. Sriracha is available on request, for those looking to spice things up.

What bugged me about this dish, though was the lemongrass.  Shards of tough, fibrous lemongrass were mixed in with everything and a pain to chew. In my experience lemongrass is used for flavor and fished out before serving, that would have made this much better.

They also serve Pho here, ranging from $6.55 to $7.95. They have all the standard options for brisket, beef tendon and tripe. Given that Pho 32 is available just a block or so away, I don’t have it here often. The broth is thin and not super flavorful, but it can still hit the spot on a cold day when you don’t feel like waiting in line.

I’m sure it’s not the greatest Vietnamese in New York, but I’m using it as my baseline for future explorations (you can probably only go up from here!) Where else should I go in Midtown, Downtown or Brooklyn? I’ve got until Thanksgiving to check them out. Leave your suggestions in the comments.

The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Vietnamese in Midtown? Yes, please!
  • They’ve got a huge menu, including Chinese food.
  • I love those pork chops.

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Thin Pho is a sad thing.
  • Lemongrass splinters aren’t fun to eat.
  • There’s much better Vietnamese outside of Midtown.

Golden City, 14 E 33rd St (btw Mad+5th), 212-683-1255


  • The servings look like they are on the skimpy side but at least they’re offering Viet in Midtown.

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    is the takeout buffet self serve?

  • I’ve only done the takeout buffet (because it was cheap), but it was absolutely AWFUL. Don’t even bother.

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    check out quan an ngon in saigon… street food of all of vietnam served in a restaurant format. Delicious.

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    where in PI are you heading to?

  • @Rizzo, thanks for the tip,I’ll check it out. Street food is definitely on the menu.

    @jae_em, heading to Cebu for a friend’s wedding.

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    I eat here weekly. And I’ll be trying the chops soon. Normally I stick to the Hunan Beef. So far this place has just been consistently ok for me. It’s cheap, tastes decent, it works.

    The buffet…well, why would you ever eat at a buffet? Can’t say I’ve tried it, can’t say I ever will. But there’s always a line 4-5 deep for it when I’m in there, so some people like it.

  • I eat here at least once a week. Not awful at all. Three items plus rice for $5. That’s what midtown lunch is all about. You can even stretch out one lunch into two. People who turn up their noses at this place are looking for some fancy lunch.

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