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Manhattan Vietnamese

Boi Restaurant Report (New Midtown Vietnamese)

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Boi Restaurant Report (New Midtown Vietnamese)

banh cuon | Nov 14, 2003 02:01 PM

Went to the newly opened Boi Restaurant last night for dinner. It's a new midtown vietnamese restaurant opened by a brother and sister pair from Saigon (he is the host and she is the cook), plus the desserts are being made by Bill Yosses (of Bouley and Citerella fame).

Started with a mangosteen puree/rum/tonic cocktail (10 dollars) which was unusual and delicious (could actually taste real mangosteen flavor which was nice), my boyfriend had a "33" brand beer.

Shared the pho bo (beef noodle soup, 12 dollars) as an appetizer. A disappointing rendition. The bowl was large and more than enough for two people, and there was a nice ratio of broth to noodles to meat and herb garnish. However, the broth was very one dimensional and tasted mostly of msg-laden beef bouillon. Also, arrived warm but not steaming hot as pho should be. There is much better pho to be had in chinatown for $4.50.

I had the banh xeo (crispy tumeric scented crepes filled with shrimp, pork, beansprouts, and scallions) for entree (19 dollars) and my boyfriend had the spicy bean thread noodles with maine crab meat (16 dollars). Both were excellent renditions, both the best I've had in Manhattan. The crepe was nicely crisp with a good coconut and tumeric flavor and the fillings were perfectly cooked and seasoned. The crab noodles was tasty with good herbal flavor but lacked any spiciness whatsoever. However, once again the entrees were served near room temperature, not hot as they ought to be. Also, the prices seemed a bit high for these entrees since the portions were not large and the presentation was very blah (as in a garnish of a limp piece of leaf cabbage and a julienne of carrot, a la saigon grill).

Desserts were surprisingly blah for Bill Yosses creations. I had the tamarind cake and my boyfriend had tapioca simmered in coconut milk with basil seeds and chopped mango and pomegranate seeds garnish, which was served so icy cold that not of the flavors really developed as they ought to. The tamarind cake was a small, cold, dense and dry puck, edible but not delicious, the only good thing about it was a nice spicey tamarind flavor. The accompanying caramel ice cream was very tasty however (very creamy and with a nuanced toasty caramel flavor) as were the perfectly ripe red papaya slices. Clearly desserts were prepped way beforehand and left in the refrigerator.

The darkly lit bamboo-accented room was fairly empty at 8pm (looks like it seats around 40), yet the service was rather spacey. Dishes cleared too quickly and utensils forgotten, plus most dishes not at the optimum temperature, leaning towards the cold side. However, they've only been open for two weeks so hopefully things will improve. Overall there is definite kitchen talent, but the prices are outrageous for the decor/service/calibre of food one receives.

Boi
246 East 44th Street (Between 2nd and 3rd)
212-681-6541

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