Sunday, May 25, 2008
Que Nha - St Paul, MN
At Vietnamese restaurants there are two things I almost always get, the fried spring rolls (Chai Gio) and Pho - the national dish of Vietnam.
The Cha Gio ($3.45) was on the expensive side and came to us quick. My immediate suspicion was that it was pre-cooked. It was lukewarm. The accompany dipping sauce thick was over crowded with carrots and garlic and light on the fish sauce. As much as I wanted the cha gio to be great, it was average.
On the other hand, the Pho (Tai, Nam, Gau, Gan, Sach or top round, flank, brisket, tendon, and tripe - $5.95) was great, one of the best in the area, with an invitingly hot aromatic beef broth, the noodles cooked just right, and the quality of meats used.
Another semi-staple for us and which we did get here is combination rice platter known as Com Bi Suon Cha Tom Boc Tau Ki ($7.95) which is BBQ pork, shredded pork, and shrimp rolled in dried tofu over steamed rice. This was a beautiful presention but just an average eat. There are competitors that serve better versions of this.
Lastly we ordered a new special they call Suon Bo Xao Nam Dong Co or Beef Short Rib Hot Pot ($9.95). Que Nha offers not only Vietnamese food but Chinese food. I'm not sure if this is Vietnamese or Chinese but experience tells me that this is Chinese. The rib meat was full flavored with black bean sauce overtones but had a chewy sinewy texture. I found the brown sauce to be salty but perfect when diluted into the rice.
Que Nha offers goat on the menu but we decided against the stomach wasn't up to something exotic today.
The Twin Cities has an abundance of Vietnamese restaurants. That's great news for Vietnamese food lovers. The competition eventually washes out the subpar. Que Nha is one of those places that has been around for a few years. The clean minimalist modern decor and service distinguishes it from its competitors. I would definitely return for the pho but pass on the other foods tried. Still I wouldn't be shy about trying their other offerings.
849 University Ave
St Paul, MN