The newish Viet Express is a contempo-stylish, bistrolike eatery tucked away on the same block as Grand Century Shopping Mall. The tiny place has surprising variety, with Vietnamese classics, less common specialties from around the country, and French dishes. Alice Patis translated some items from the specials menu, which included frog legs fried in butter, squid steamed with ginger, stuffed escargot, and shellfish steamed with minced lime leaf.

Lobster noodles, or tôm hùm xào mì mêm, are a tasty mess of about half a nice, fresh lobster stir-fried with celery, bell peppers, onions, and plenty of ginger and black pepper, with crispy or soft egg noodles. The iced coffee, smooth and concentrated, nears perfection; the popular house tea, served in a glass pot, contains goji berries, dried jujubes, chrysanthemum flowers, and other aromatics.

teela brown recommends both fried shrimp appetizers, especially the shrimp balls with a quail egg in the middle. Fried crusty brown, they’re served with nuoc cham dipping sauce. The classic Vietnamese beef stew is fragrant with five-spice and loaded with meat, gelatinous tendon chunks, carrots, and potatoes. Steam table offerings are quite a bargain; steam table plus a nice but undistinguished shrimp and vegetable stir-fry was $5.95.

The place is hard to spot—look for the red and white awning.

Viet Express [South Bay]
1143 Story Road, San Jose
408-971-9424

Board Link: Tôm Hùm Xào Mì Mêm @ Viet Express in San Jose

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