It’s a smallish place, with about 50 seats, nicely built-out. We sat at the bar where you can see them prepare some of the dishes. Service was over the top, presumably because they must be training people. But there were about 20 people working there, as compared to 50 seats (12 guests when we were there, so the staff outnumbered the guests).
Chef Tin Vuong was there keeping an eye on things as there’s a LOT of prep necessary for this menu.
The menu is similar to the MB location with the same sections, but slightly different items.
Banh mi was the best I’ve ever had, and at $8 it’s a bargain. We ordered the SGV special with Vietnamese cold cuts grilled pork, peanuts, pate and the normal veggies served on a fresh roll with a nice crust. It’s a good sized sandwich, larger than most, and it’s served with a small bowl of pho broth. The quality of the ingredients was miles ahead of the normal banh mi sandwiches I have in Little Saigon.
Like other Asian restaurants, the food comes out in whatever order they damn well want to bring it out. And the banh mi came out first. Which is good because my taste buds hadn’t been destroyed yet, but bad because it set a very high bar.
Dumplings were served with a vegetable that was a cross between a green bean and okra. I’m sure people more familiar with this type of food will know it immediately. It had a very slight kick to it, and very fresh to the palate. But it was missing something. Maybe something sour? Anyway, it was not my favorite.
E-Fu Noodle was another hit. Obviously house-made, they were a little thick and had a nice chew. And they were served with twice cooked pork belly. The crunchy texture of the pork belly was fabulous, and the salty/gamey/smoky flavor was well suited to the slightly sweet sauce on the noodles.
Ma Po Doufu (cold tofu), like all the dishes, was presented beautifully, although there was an unfamiliar taste that just missed it for me. But in fairness, I was quite full by the time this dish rolled out.
We also had a side of pickles with Szechuan peppercorns, which were a good counterpunch to some of the dishes, but I didn’t taste the peppercorns.
523 W 7th Street, half block east of Grand