1/5 stars (2015)
Quality has gone WAY down hill. I won't be coming back.
3/5 stars (2007)
Beware the long review, read on if you want to learn a lil' sumthin'sumthin bout Vietnamese cuisine :)
MY MOM EATS HERE: In my eyes (and tummy), no Vietnamese food beats my mom's homecooked meals. So if she thinks this place is good, then this is a Vietnamese restaruant you should eat at.
ATMOSPHERE: I haven't been back since they remodeled. Vung Tau used to be crowded, not the cleanest, and had that "second hand, but the food is awesome" look. Now, I feel like they're trying to be Straits second cousin, twice removed or something, minus the bar and the chic look. I like the clean chairs, the bamboo color, and the vibrant paintings. It's also a whole lot quieter now - could be in part because the prices have been raised way up (tea used to be only 50 cents). At least the quality and taste of the food is the same. I hate it when restaurants get a makeover, jack up their prices, and then suck at the food part.
FOOD: Vietnamese food is so unique. It's not as greasy as Chinese, or as spicy or curried as Thai, or as fishy and terriyaki heavy as Japanese. The menu at Vung Tau is pretty spectacular in size - you can really try all sorts of things - noodles (banh hoi or hu tieu), rice plates, soup (canh). Today, my mom and I ordered:
+the banh hoi bo nuong (thinly sliced beef rolled around onions)
+the banh hoi nem (grilled pork meatballs)
Banh hoi is steamed rice vermiccelli - it's really light, slightly sticky, and extremely thin. Drizzled with green onions and some well-made fish sauce mixed with chili and it's wonderful. One of my favorite things about Vietnamese food is that a lot of dishes come with a huge plate of fresh vegetables. The ban hoi came with a huge pile of green leaf lettuce, bean sprouts (still wet, which means they were washed, yay!), cucumbers, and carrots and daikon soaked in vinegar (I recommend you soak these in your own fish sauce before eating them). We also ordered an extra plate of rice paper (to wrap everything up, sort of like a soft taco). Wrap with goodies, dip in fish sauce, yumm!
+hu tieu ba nam sadec or nam vang - translates to rice flour noodle soup with shrimp, crab, and pork. Ask for it DRY, which means the soup comes in a separate bowl... it's different and the tomato-like sauce the noodles are topped with makes for a very delicious noodle experience. What you do is either eat some noodles, then spoon up some soup, or gradually pour some soup into the dry noodles as you eat.
+canh chua tom vietnam - it's light, sort of sweet n' sour, and 100% drool-worthy. It's a tamarind soup chock full of things like shrimp and bean sprouts and you eat it with white rice.