I first posted on Nhat Vy back in November when they had just opened, and while only one dish stood out, the Banh Cuon, the prices were right and the folks working here were very nice. Over the next couple of months we visited a couple more times. Here's what we found. After a few months they moved things around and even had a grease board put up. Unfortunately, it's hidden behind the palm.....
As you can see, there's a nice representation of items I really enjoy listed, bot chien, banh xeo, and of course, what they make to order, the Banh Cuon.
I brought the Missus right after my initial post and She was sold......granted, not the best Banh Cuon in the world, but good by San Diego standards. That would be thin, slightly stretchy......
The goi cuon, on the other hand is nothing to write home about......
Too much bun...with iceberg lettuce (!). Dirt cheap though at $2.25 for two.
We returned for the Banh Cuon, but were shut out on subsequent trips, which gave us a chance to try other items on the menu.
The Bun Tom, vermicelli with shrimp was quite good according to the Missus.
Shrimp plump and juicy and the bun prepared well.
On this trip I tried the Bun Mam ($7).
In the case of Bun Mam, I expect a rich, funky, complex, almost heavy broth broth, full bodied with the flavor of fermented shrimp paste almost bubbling to the surface creating what I call an "umami bomb". This was pretty weak. The broth seemed to be the kitchen's standard issue soup broth with some mam nem dumped in it. Not much else to say, other than this really isn't bun mam.
We returned the following week, hoping for Banh Cuon.....my pronunciation of certain Vietnamese words can be almost tragically funny. Like I've often said...."I barely speak English and you want me to try a six-tone language?" So I've started typing the words out on my iPhone showing the folks working here what I want. Well, no Banh Cuon on this visit either.......
So the Missus ordered the Banh Xeo.
We were both surprised when not one, but two crepes were brought out. Along with the veggies and herbs, this was quite a bit of food. These were ok, the scant pork really tough and the meager shrimp overcooked and rubbery. If I recall, this was like about five bucks....really cheap. But we'd have preferred a smaller portion with a better product.
I decided to try the simple bot chien, but it was a "no go". So I went with the Bánh canh giò heo ($7) a clear broth soup with pigs feet.
This was their standard issue clear broth with some well prepared and slippery rice/tapioca flour noodles. There were two smallish pieces of pig's feet which was pretty tender, but nothing special. The broth was light on flavor, but kind of heavy on the MSG as I started to puff up a bit after the soup.
After striking out twice on the Banh Cuon, the Missus and I concocted a strategy. I'd park in front, motor running, the Missus would walk in the door and ask if they had Banh Cuon today. If not, She'd thank them and we'd be on our way. That way, we'd minimize wasting time and calories on dishes we really didn't want.
After coming up empty handed three more times we just gave up. The folks here are nice, but there's just really one item on the menu we want, and they never seem to have it anymore. Too bad.......
Nhat Vy Vietnamese Restaurant
4595 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92115