I consider Viet Ville a muted Vietnamese restaurant, as if it tones down some things to appeal to the chain-preferring tastes this uber-suburban Blossom Valley area of San Jose. When I last came here I brought 5 or 6 co-workers (all experienced in viet cuisine). We thought it was fine but they didn't seem wowed by anything. For me one major downfall is the too sweet, not even slightly fishy nuoc cham sauce (for various dipping, and for mixing into the bun dishes), and when I asked for pure nuoc mam (to doctor it), I was simply given more of the same dipping sauce. So while the banh xeo is a very good version, the dipping sauce weakens the overall experience.
So while Ive had tasty dishes here, Ive been here only a few times. I came back yesterday to refresh my memory of the pho, to compare it to Pho My a couple miles down the street. All in all, the pho broth at Viet Ville doesnt have as much flavor/pho smell, but everything else about the pho is better. I ordered the same meat choice, Pho Tai Gau. Here the decent-sized small is a bit cheaper, $4.99. The fatty brisket was brisket with bits of fat and not fat with bits of meat, and it was soft, flavorful, with a satisfying hint of chew in the texture. The tai meat (I always forget what this cut is called in English, so I call it rare beef even if its not served rare) was fully cooked but very tender and it was a good sized amount. The broth was piping hot, so the noodles were not all clumped together.
The garnish plate was a bit sloppy. The one sprig of basil was wilted/bruised, and they forgot the lemon/lime. But I was very promptly given a small bowl with 3 wedges of lemon when I asked. Broth was not overly salty, and one squeeze of lemon made it just right. I just wish it had more of the fragrance/flavor of pho. I didnt detect any MSG sweetness/aftertaste in the back of my tongue.
Service was very nice. Maybe they are starting to recognize me; maybe the camera and notebook scribbling had something to do with it. But service has usually been well-meaning in the past.
I think theyve expanded the menu since the last time I was here. An appetizer caught my eye that Id never seen before, so I ordered it before my pho. Its called Banh Bac Lieu, $5.99 on the menu. Ill include a picture of it in the ensuing post, but below is a pic of the pho.