Six of us met at Huynh for the seventh Oakland Chowlunch, on Tuesday August 3 at noon.
I'd been to Huynh (pronounced something like "win") a couple of times for dinner. It was very pleasant and the food was light and well-prepared. They were not very busy for dinner (apparently they get a good dinner trade when the Paramount or Fox theater has something going on). But wow -- do they do a lunch business! It was packed by 12:30, and people were lined up waiting for tables. It was also quite noisy, because of tile floors and hard surfaces! The lunch crowd was very diverse.
We were momentarily disconcerted because there is a new "Lunch" menu. We recovered nicely when we realized it was the same dishes as the dinner menu, but now organized by sauce rather than by main ingredient. We had food on the table soon after we ordered -- all the food came at once. Servers were brisk, efficient, all male.
We repeated two dishes we had at Binh Minh Quan -- just to compare: the lotus salad, and the stuffed squid. Unlike Binh Minh Quan, no wrapping was required (or allowed). Efficiency is the name of the game here, I guess.
#6 Lotus Salad ($5.95). Not as much lotus as Binh Minh Quan, lots of carrot, some shrimp, and shrimp chips. I liked the cilantro/mint/fish sauce dressing -- very light, crunchy, refreshing. This dish is the complete food opposite of Shanghai "pork joint."
#74 Stuffed Squid ($8) These were in the "spicy shrimp base sauce". I liked the ones at Binh Minh Quan better. Here they were stuffed with chicken rather than pork, but they were good. There was squid-to-squid variation in the hotness -- a couple of them evidently were hiding peppers (menu description says "whole black peppers").
#7 Spicy Fish Cake ($5.95). Accompanied by very nice pickled cabbage. No sauce for these, and none needed -- they were spicy and tasty. Not greasy. Similar to the Thai "tod mun pla."
#80 Chicken Curry ($6.70). "coconut sauce." Mild, tender, all dark meat, with potato, carrot. Yellow rice (called "special rice").
#83 Pan-Fried Catfish ($8). Unlike any catfish I've had, it was a solid slab of tender, boneless, mild fish, lightly fried, swimming in "ginger fish sauce." I believe it is not local catfish, but rather a fish from Vietnam. The sauce was delightful, clear, light, a bit gingery.
#27 Pho ($6.50) "Extra-large bowl". The broth was sweet and aromatic (I thought nutmeg, Susan B thought five-spice). The beef and tendon were soft. It was mild and tasty (but I didn't get the chance to tart it up with the accompanying fresh lemon/mint/jalapeno).
Total cost was about $10 per person (some people had tea or coffee and chipped in a buck extra).
Here's a link to the menu:
Our next lunch will be _Thursday_ August 12, at Battambang (Cambodian). Mark your calendars -- there will be an Evite soon. If you're not on my Evite list for these events, send a message to jtchowhoundAThotmailDOTcom.
Huynh Vietnamese Cuisine
381 15th Street, Oakland, CA (near Franklin)