The Voice's Sietsema crawled out on a big long limb this week when he said that Pho Grand just west of Allen St is the best Vietnamese restaurant in NYC, with the possible exception of a few way out in Bensonhurst. (Link is below.) I went down there and saw most of my fellow diners clutching copies of his review. He seemed to like the beef the best so I ordered sauteed beef with lemongrass. I was greeted with a tired old stir-fry -- lots of big green peppers and onions -- that would not have looked out of place in a 1940s film noir when the hard boiled shamus meets the head gangster in a greasy Chinatown dive. I got stuff like that when I was a kid. They probably serve it in Wo Hop today. The sauce redeemed it, though. It was a sprightly blend of lemongrass, a little sugar, and minced (not fresh) garlic. Very good indeed. But the best in NY??? I don't think so.
I'm not willing to give up on this place. If I went again I'd probably try the grilled meats from the "House Special Dishes" section of the menu. Those might indeed be special. I'd skip the sauteed dishes, though.
Walking west on Grand Street, I passed MY favorite Vietnamese place (with the possible exception of Cong Ly on Hester), Nam Son (South Mountain). It was full, and everyone there was Vietnamese. I wish I'd gone there.
Pho Grand, 277 Grand St (212) 965-5366
Nam Son, 245 Grand St 212-966-6507