Flatiron Lunch: If You’re Craving Vietnamese L’Annam 28 Does the Trick
After all my recent reminiscing about the meals I ate while in Vietnam, I found myself craving the flavors of Southeast Asia. Pho 32 and Golden City just weren’t going to cut it, so I decided to see what my options were in the Kips Bay/Murray Hill South area. I don’t often make my way that far east, so I thought I’d explore, if I didn’t find anything, I could always fall back on Baoguette. It didn’t come to that, and though I’m now fiending for a banh mi sandwich, I’m happy to have discovered L’Annam 28.
I’ve been to Lannan’s Union Square branch years ago and vaguely remember enjoying it, but I wondered how I’d like it now. The menu is a bit wide ranging, with some Thai-style curries and a couple Japanese and Chinese dishes mixed in, but it’s got a good focus on Vietnamese dishes like Pho and Bun. The lunch specials are equally mixed offering 20 dishes for $6.95 each. The non-noodle options come with your choice of rice, white, brown or fried.
The full sized pho is available as a lunch special, but I decided to go with a smaller portion for $4.25 as a starter. Even so, the small is a good size, enough to thaw me out after the walk from the office. Unlike other shops, there are no options for the pho, it comes as is, full of tendon-rich slices of beef and noodles. The flavor is deeper and a bit saltier than at the places near my office, which was reward enough for the trek.
I was a bit taken aback when my order of pork chops on fried rice showed up next. The order comes on a platter that looks like it could serve two. The slices of sweet, grilled pork slices were piled high on top of the fried rice. It was great. . . until I got to the rice. That was sad. The grains were bunched up and undercooked, crunchy even. No meal that includes a pile of delicious grilled pork can be considered a bad one, but the rice was a serious disappointment.
On my most recent visit, I skipped the rice and ordered bun with grilled beef. Having had noodles in the pho, I knew they wouldn’t mess those up. They were the perfect medium for sopping up the dollops of hot sauces I dropped around the plate.
The beef may not have been the lemongrass-scented meat that I had at a barbecue beer garden on a roof in Saigon, but it was good. A beefier version of the pork chops, with less of the sweetness or seasoning, it hit just the right balance between the beef and the char, which I love.
Clearly, an expedition into the depths of Brooklyn and Queens is in order for me to find anything like what I had in Vietnam, but considering the options available south of Midtown, L’Annam 28 does the job.
Lannan 28, 393 3rd Ave (corner of 28th Street). 212.686.5168.