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Best Vietnamese in NH


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Best Vietnamese in NH

starvinginNH | | Oct 21, 2007 09:15 PM

So, what's your vote? Any places some of us might not know about yet? Here's my vote (disclosure: I also posted some of this on Boston board topic about best bun vermicelli).

I'd love to know about any Vietnamese places in NH. The other Vietnamese place in Manchester closed, I don't know Nashua very well, and have no idea if there are good places in any other towns like Hanover, Portsmouth etc. I've eaten a lot of Vietnamese in Boston area and in Calif and Texas (there a large pockets of Vietnamese immigrants in both those latter places), which are pretty authentic and yummy.

And yet, surprisingly, the best bun (cold rice vermicelli bowl)and pho (hot beef noodle soup) I've ever had is at a little place in Manchester NH called Golden Bowl. If you are ever there, go no matter what! It's exit 4 off route 293 and you drive on Queen City Ave, toward Elm Street, but it's on the right before Elm.

Two sisters run it, and EVERYTHING is homemade. Although you might not know it, many restaurants cheat and use powdered pho seasoning with bouillon and herbs to enhance, even if they do make a base broth from scratch. The sisters make their beef, chicken, (seafood and veg broths too) completely from scratch the traditional way - simmer marrow bones and herbs, scorched onion, etc. You have absolutely no need to add the usual chili and condiments on the table to this pho since the broth is just so lovely. They have the usual choices of beef cuts, nice amount of onion, cilantro and white pepper sprinkled on top. I do add the basil, lime wedge, tiny chili and bean sprouts to the pho. She is picky about serving it completely hot too, so when you add bean sprouts it doesn't cool the broth down too much. Heaven!

They have a "chicken pho" that is great, and I usually hate chicken pho. Nice shreds of boneless white meat, some greens and cilantro and the crispy fried shallots as a garnish on top.

They also have nice seafood and veg noodle soups of various types, with squid, traditional fish cakes, egg etc. Tried many of those too, and never been less than happy. They have "Vietnamese beef stew" noodles soup too. And a couple spicy beef noodle soups, one hue (Vietnamese regional version) type and one satay type.
As specials, they often have roasted duck with rice or in noodle soup. Both are great. Other special I've enjoyed is the curry beef noodle soup.

And the bun has lovely vegetables - mint, slivered carrot and daikon and cuke, bean sprouts, shredded lettuce. Plus the grilled pork, or grilled pork and sugarcane shrimp (my fave!), or fried spring rolls on top. And a nice dusting of ground up peanut as garnish. The rice vermicelli are perfect, never too soggy or undercooked. I like their sweet fish sauce to put over the bowl of bun too, and always dump the whole portion in right away.

I had never tried it until recently because I thought it was one of those "crab rangoon" type appetizers on most menus, but their "peking ravioli" is out of this world! The pork filling is just like the best juicy pork filling I had in Taiwan from specialty street vendors. The cut of pork and the amount of fat is the key - they called it "black pork" filling in Taiwan, I'm guessing it's the dark meat cuts of pork. It is tender and not a hard lump ball of meat inside like some restaurant dumplings are. And the wrapper is clearly homemade dough that is thicker (than factory made dumpling wrappers) and nice texture. I was surprised and it's my new fave. I always went for the sugar cane shrimp paste appetizer, which is fabulous too. Usually with a group we have to get the "fresh" rolls/summer rolls (soft rice paper wrap rolls).

If you go, Samantha Diep is the sister who runs the floor, and she is great to ask questions of and will explain to you. She speaks four languages - Vietnamese, various Chinese dialects. They do have a few Chinese regional dishes on menu like Taiwanese stir-fry cabbage, pork chop over rice. There are always a lot of Asian patrons there - Vietnamese but also Taiwanese, Chinese, Korean, because the food is so straightforward and good.

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