4307 Main St, Philadelphia, PA
Around a year ago, a Main Line diner had to drive deep into South or NorthEast Philadelphia, or at least Upper Darby to find any kind of Vietnamese cuisine. Recently, though, we have seen shops open up in Bryn Mawr, NARBERTH!! and recently Ardmore. Within a week of a new Ardmore venue, Manayunk enters the race.
As the shop has only been open a couple of days, I’ll update my review as I they get their legs. These are first impressions.
First of all, for a Manayunk eatery, prices are downright CHEAP !! That’s pricey real estate and the menu does not at all reflect it.
As they do not have broken rice on the menu (just white and brown) I went for the bun (vermicelli) with my bellwether thịt nướng (chargrilled pork.) At a measly $8, I had ordered an app of crispy spring rolls (Chả giò), and was politely informed by my waitress that I could try a single one for an additional buck and a half. With the platters, an additional DOLLAR buys you an extra protein (chicken pork or tofu.)
The spring roll was spot on… super hot with a good amount of filling and the paper thing wrapper. I would have preferred it to be cut into smaller pieces for dunking in the nuoc cham (dipping sauce.) The sauce was quite pale, and mildly flavored but did the job. The usual Sriracha and hoisin were on the table, but no fish, soy, or hot chili oil as one might find in more traditional spots.
It arrived atop the bowl of vermicelli and pork (adorned with pickled daikon, carrot, cucumber julienne and crushed peanuts. The vermicelli was quite chilled, which was a little disappointing as it brought down the temperature of the pork quickly. The pork was likely grilled under a broiler, as there were a few crispy bits, but not as much as when it is char-grilled over a flame. It was likely prepared somewhat in advance ahead of the noon hour (the place had about six tables, and was relatively busy.)
As such, the meat was not dry, but not juicy. The large, thin slices were a bit difficult to manipulate with chopsticks .. larger than bite-sized. It was OK, but not among the best versions I’ve had.
Iced coffee was served in a “to-go” plastic cup with one of those huge straws one uses for bubble tea. It was good, if inelegant.
Service was good, and efficient. I was asked twice how things were throughout the short meal. I don’t believe my server was Vietnamese, but the menu was clearly translated (not that I speak the language beyond food names 🙂 )
I will return soon to try the Pho and will report back.
My wife and I went for lunch on a Saturday. We decided to split an order of spring rolls ($4.00) for three. They were crispy and hot, but surprisingly served with a Chinese-style plum sauce-type dip as opposed to the traditional nuoc cham which we requested, and immediately received.
Her Manayunk Combo Bun had a spring roll, grilled chicken, grilled pork and grilled shrimp. The presentation was similar to my previous experience with bot the pork and chicken being pre-cooked, and tepid. Vermicelli were fridge-cold, exacerbating the temperature issue. She noted that the amount and flavor of the dipping sauce was inadequate to permeate the noodles.
My chicken clay pot arrived BUBBLING with volcanic heat but considering I ordered it with a “3” spiciness level (on a scale of 1 to 3) there was NO pepper flavor… In fact, the bell peppers in the description were absent. So was the flavor of ginger and garlic. What arrived was very nice white meat chicken, onions, and bits of scallion in a VERY sweet sauce. It was not unpleasant one a dash of Sriracha was added, but not what was expected.
Hopefully, this place will get over its timidness with regard to flavor, and hit the dishes with some fish sauce, garlic, peppers, whatever. Until then, it appears to be a dumbed-down version of Vietnamese for whatever they call what the Mexicans call “gringos.”