Craving great Vietnamese or Thai food on a trip through the Newark area on pleasure, I came across to an area I usually only pass when working in the neighborhood. Located on the west end of Mowry Avenue behind Newpark Mall, near where I always read about Indian restaurants (that I haven't yet tried) I decided to check out what I know to be another great ethnic strip mall chock full of restaurants and shops.
A new Lion supermarket recently opened it seems, and many restauarants are open or opening soon. A teppanyaki (sp) place is under construction, a Malaysian Hawker restuarant (anyone explain this one to me? Is "Hawker" street food maybe?), Hot pot place, and pearl tea places.
Considered all of them, but our noses led us across the parking lot to the smell of grilling meat coming from Vung Tau at 6092 Mowry, Newark.
The place was busy, unlike the others at 7 pm on a Friday night. We were rewarded with a great meal, and can't wait to return. We have been to many Vietnamese restuarants, but always basing it on Pho 84 in Oakland from the old days before their current location.
We started off with a huge plate of Cha Gio (eggrolls), six pieces with a texture of the wrappers that I had never experienced before. They were fantastic and crisp. But being a fresh veggie lover, my appetite was stoked by the huge mound of green leaf lettuce leaves, fresh mint sprigs, and fresh basil, all with a carrot/fish dipping sauce. This dish alone would have been enough of a pleasure to satisfy my wife and I. Since she orders this dish at every Vietnamese restaurant we go to, her moaning in delight was noteworthy.
I had number 52, bahn hoi tom thit nuong, which was steamed vermicelli with grilled prawns and pork. Square "cakes" of vermicelli noodles (kinda boring) were served with great grilled and flavorful marinated pork, and grilled shrimp. Served with a great big platter of lettuce, mint, basil, daikon, carrots, and bean sprouts, with carrot/fish sauce on the side for dressing. A dipping sauce of a red sweet/sour variety was included. Very good dish. $9.25
My wife had one of the special rice plates called Combination 2 (original, aye?). It was Lemon grass aromatic chicken,(fantastic with chili peppers, nice pieces of lemon grass slices, and mighty tasty), fried rice (heavy on scrambled egg and veggies), Tempura prawns (very crisply and nicely done) and a huge separate bowl of steamed veggies (broccoli, carrots al dente). More than enough to eat for anyone. Price was $8.95.
They have firepots, porridge, frogs legs, and fish. I was certainly impressed to return with family and friends for a tasting experience as we are known to do.
Things that tempted my interest for next time:
# 70 - Broken rice (what's that about?) with shredded pork, grilled pork, and meat pie ( Aussie food in a Vietnamese restaurant? What is a meat pie in Vietnam?)
#55 - Steamed vermicelli with grilled shrimp paste on sugar cane
Appetizers such as Tamarind mussels, or beef jerky papaya salad, or roasted quails (2)
My mouth is watering just looking back at their menu. I know that walking to their clean restrooms got me to see lots of great looking dishes on everyone's table and got me reved up to try even more items another time.
The menu has 190 items on it.
Good thing I was stuffed by the time we finished, as a trip to Food Lion supermarket nearby didn't do as much damage to my wallet as it would have. But the bakery leading to the supermarket's front door (in the hallway/mall (open till 830 pm) left me drooling.
Hope you enjoy as much as I did. Now if only they could move that place here to San Ramon..........