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Restaurants & Bars 2

[PDX] Banh Cuon Tan Dinh...

extramsg | Feb 27, 200608:34 PM

Tried this new Vietnamese place with a couple friends from PortlandFood this weekend. We ordered way too much food, but for some reason it all disappeared -- in our bellies.

It's the only restaurant open at Fubonn Shopping Center currently. Malay Satay Hut is coming along nicely and looks like it could be finished within a month. (Haven't checked the progress of Pho Saigon, which I'm less eager for.)

Banh Cuon Tan Dinh has a hefty menu of 75+ items with many specialties, many Tan Dinh specialties, not found or done well elsewhere. They also have standars like pho, bun bo hue, banh xeo, etc. Many of their dishes came with similar platters with lettuce for making wraps, a variety of herbs, and crudites. The veggies and herbs were all very fresh. They had a good variety, too. Herbs usually included basil, mint, and cilantro. Possibly others. Veggies included things like cucumber, lightly pickeled daikon, and carrot.

We ordered seven items:

* Goi Cuon ($3.75): three salad rolls with shrimp and pork with lettuce, mint, sprouts, and noodles. They served a hoisin-based sauce on the side, though it wasn't entirely dominated by hoisin. They were good. Tightly wrapped with fresh ingredients.

* Banh Xeo ($5.25): pan fried rice flour crepe flavored with coconut milk, filled with shrimp, sprouts, pork, and onions. It was served with lettuce wraps, herbs, veggies, and nuoc cham. It looked fantastic and I loved its ultra crisp texture. I think the heavy char actually hurt it, though, making it a little bitter on the outside. Still quite good, however.

* Banh Khot ($5.25): Crispy rice cups filled with shrimp, mung beans and scallions served with sauce and the veggie platter on the side. These were probably the big hit of the lunch. Everybody liked them. The fillings were soft and rich and it was fun to pop them in your mouth and crunch on the rice flour cups.

* Banh Cuon Dac Biet ($6.25): rice flour sheets wrapped around a mixture of meats and topped with shrimp tempura and processed pork slices. It came with a smaller, simpler bit of lettuce and herbs on the side, plus the nuoc cham. Enjoyable. The meats were cooked nicely and well-seasoned, the tempura crisp and the shrimp fresh tasting, the rolls tightly wrapped so that you could take a bit and they would still hold together.

* Banh Uot Bi Cha Thit Nuong ($6.75): thickly stacked rice flour sheets topped with shredded pork skin, BBQ pork, and processed pork. (mmm, pork three ways.) I think the uot was too much starch for me. But I loved their BBQ pork. It was sweet and well charred, but still tender. This came with the same herbs and greens as the banh cuon.

* Banh Hoi Nem Nuong/Thit Nuong ($6.50): Angel vermicelli "cakes" topped with BBQ pork, meatballs, shrimp, and ground peanuts. The larger platter of veggies was served on the side. Again, loved the BBQ pork. The meatballs were fine. A little dense as Vietnamese meatballs tend to be. The "cakes" were like little flat nests, the noodles interwoven but not creating an entirely opaque surface.

* Goi: Not sure which goi (salad). They have several and I thought we were ordering goi sua tom thit, but I don't remember the jellyfish. It was a decent salad with lots of crisp veggies, good shrimp, and a nice dressing that didn't overwhelm the salad.

I was impressed with how well-executed all the dishes were and with how fresh all the ingredients. And damn if their prices aren't quite good, too, even for a Vietnamese restaurant. I will be back. It's going on my short list of favorite Vietnamese restaurants in town along with Pho Van, Bun Bo Hue, Pho Oregon, Yen Ha, and Pho Dalat.



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