My friend Anh is VERY picky about Vietnamese restaurants. I’m not saying its a bad thing, it’s definitely a good thing since I love Vietnamese food. I trust her when she said something is good and worth her time. Though I am still a big believer that any sort of Asian food should be cheap and comes in large amount. So when she said that, so far in NYC, her favorite Vietnamese place is Bun SoHo I wasn’t sure what to think of it. For $9-$10 you get a small bowl of bun. I get the idea of paying for quality and where the restaurant is situated. Anyways so I found this cheap hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown. I emailed it to Anh and she responded by saying “lets go tonight!” Okay….so I met up with her at 6:30 in Chinatown but what used to be the restaurant is now a jewelry store. Thanks Cheap Ass Food for featuring a place that has been closed for almost a year now. Thanks.
Anh pointed out that there was a place she never seen before so thats how we ended up at Xe Lua on Mulberry St.
We walked in and sat in the back of the restaurant. Anh decided to get the Bún Xe Lua barbecue pork, shrimp, spring roll with shredded lettuce serve with rice vermicelli, which is her “to get” dish for comparing and rating the restaurant. I felt like having rice so I went with good old Com Suon Bì Cha barbecue pork chop, special steam egg cake and shredded pork serve with broken rice. I also got the Bánh Cuon steam rice crepe with mince pork and ear mushroom as the appetizer. I didn’t really have any high expectations for a lot of the restaurants in Manhattan Chinatown. Seems like now if you want good Vietnamese food you need to go to Queens and Brooklyn.
What did I say about Asian food? Gotta be big and cheap! Well Xe Lua did it just right. It’s been a while since I seen such a big plate of grilled pork chop rice. The pork chop was nicely grilled, yuuum.
As for Anh’s bun well she gave the place a 5 out of 10 so I guess the bun was only okay. But again, it came in a big bowl. Even I thought that was a bit big for a bowl of bun.
Going backwards, the appetizer was pretty good. Wished there were more ground pork inside the rice crepe but overall a pretty good starter.
– Xe Lua Vietnamese Restaurant 86 Mulberry St Manhattan