Classy Vietnamese Apparently Comes at Very Small Price

I am totally jealous of what Morgan is reporting on today, a gorgeous Vietnamese lunch from Le Viet.

I’d been seeing the sign for the $5 lunch special outside Le Viet up until the day before I finally got to try it out. On the day I showed up, the placard had been removed but I wasn’t going to let that deter me. Luckily for me and my friend, the regular menu includes all the special $5 items and several others well within the Midtown Lunch price range.

We decided on spitting a couple of appetizers and getting an entrée a piece. I would say my Vietnamese is terrible, but I am pretty sure I couldn’t even pronounce a single dish correctly so we ordered by number. Our smiling waitress certainly didn’t mind. I started with Soup Mang Tây Cua and she had Hên Xúc Bánh Ða. We also started with a couple of Thai iced teas.

The soup was a silky, thick egg drop soup with a light, delicate flavor. There was plenty of crab meat and a couple of dainty little boiled quail eggs. The richness was cut somewhat by the occasional piece of white asparagus. I have seen this soup on the menus of other Vietnamese restaurants but hadn’t tried it before. I certainly won’t shy away again, though.

The second dish was even tastier. It was a mixture of clams and beef in a sweet and savory sauce piled in a crispy rice cracker and topped with chopped peanuts. I thought clams and beef would be a strange combination, but the textures and flavors of the incongruous ground meats had melded completely into a dish certainly greater than it’s separate components. The only issue we had was that it was really hard to eat. We had to abandon the chopsticks and dig in with our fingers. We used pieces of the rice cracker as scoops for the tasty meat.

The appetizers were amazing but we had to stop eating about halfway through them to make sure we had room for entrees. I ordered the Bún Bò Nuong Cha Giò, grilled beef over vermicelli with a fried spring roll. The beef was tender, well marinated, and had a nice char grilled flavor. The spring roll was not really memorable, but certainly not bad either. The dish came with some bean sprouts and chopped peanuts and a little dish of Nuoc Cham.

My friend had the Com Tâm Suon Bì Cha Trung, A grilled pork chop over broken rice with shredded pork skin, fried egg, egg quiche and a small, clear soup to accompany. The platter was impressively large. I immediately experienced pork envy when I saw her plate had an entire grilled pork chop on it. The sunny side up egg was great with the enormous mound of rice.

And here’s the clincher. All this delicious food in a super swanky setting for $26 before tip. If we had forgone the Thai iced teas, we would have both dined within the Midtown Lunch budget and we went home with enough leftovers to cover dinner! This was certainly one of the best lunches I’ve had in quite a while. The food was delicious, the portions are large, the staff is friendly, and the ambiance is stylish. I wouldn’t hesitate at all to return.

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

  • Pretty Interior
  • Great service
  • Delicious, inexpensive, large lunch

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

  • I’m not into Vietnamese food

Le Viet, 1019 S. 11th Street (btw Washington Ave and Kimball )215 463-1570



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