Pho Tu Do – 119 Bowery (Vietnamese)
Finally – a Vietnamese restaurant worth revisiting.
Already known to chowhounds, the restaurant has a good reputation...not to mention a fortuitous location, nestled between the two best Vietnamese markets in Chinatown* But what brought me in was the picture menu, advertising a few items that I'd found to be rare – Banh Beo and Banh Uot. Two glutinous delicacies in one stop - that was too good an offer to pass up. And the experience was worth it...from the plain, neat decoration to the friendly staff and comfortable vibe. A touch on the expensive side, the menu nevertheless delivers on some harder to find items (such as vegetarian Banh Khot.) Some typical dishes--such as papaya salad--appear to be missing, but the good stuff makes up for it. At least the Banh Uot did...a chewy, textural delight, flavored with chili and fish sauce. Yes, I'll be skipping the blood Chao porridge on my next trip – but at least I think I'll go back.
10/16/06 - What a difference two days can make – at least when you're looking in the right place, and the chowhound gods are smiling. Have completed a disappointing vegetarian survey, I was in the neighborhood, but on my way home. Minutes from the subway, I passed under the shadow of an old favorite haunt – Sau Voi. Curious as to what was on the menu, I stepped inside...and hit the Vietnamese mother lode. On the counter lay numerous exotic treats , glutinous snacks which I had been hunting for weeks. Sugary Xoi, Banh Bot Lac...and the Bahn Beo, which I had been so thrilled to find at Pho Tu Do. Though stuffed, I grabbed the first two items...and neither disappointed. The Xoi proved pleasantly sweet and the Banh Bot Lac became an instant, chewy favorite – more than a match for anything I had sampled at Pho. The cost of my purchase – the princely sum of $4.00. So cheap and tasty wins again. I'll keep Pho Tu Do in mind – but only for out of town guests, who insist on a sitdown experience!
* Tan Tin Market and Nha Sach Khan Tri.