Van Da Delivers…NYC Restaurant Review

I thoroughly enjoy Vietnamese food and often seek out the cuisine.

A couple visiting from California were recently sitting next to us at Amber Sushi on the upper west side.

They mentioned that they were going to a lower east restaurant in celebration of their anniversary.

Days later, after her return to California, she followed up with a delightful email thanking me for recommendations that I had made and mentioned how good the Vietnamese restaurant was.

Saturday night we had a date with destiny at Van Da and it did not disappoint.

Van Da is a small restaurant serving modern Vietnamese cuisine. It is wedged into a residential block on the funky lower east side.

We opted for outside dining instead of the intimate interior which has several upstairs tables as well as a 30-seat basement dining area.

Ms. Yen Ngo, who owns Van Da, was raised in Vietnam and while she has worked in restaurants in New York City for years, she has never had a chance to showcase the food of her childhood such as her mother’s Hue influenced banh beo recipe.

Mary Celine Bui is the executive chef. Previously, she found a home at the celebrated northern Thai restaurant, Pok Pok, where she became   familiar with the flavors and cuisines of Southeast Asia.

David celebrated the evening with a delightful Green Lotus libation comprised of blanco tequila, suze, lime and basil ($14).

I enjoyed a lovely Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Payral, ‘Bergerac Sec’ 2019 ($11).

Point of information, Van Da is ancient Vietnamese for the female warrior spirit…fierce, uncompromising and nurturing.

After discussing important food issues with Lindsay, our stellar server, we kicked things off with Bahn Beo, representative of the ancient royal city of Hue.

Banh Beo are steamed rice cakes served in a ceramic dish with minced shrimp, a bit of scallion oil and divine fish sauce. Banh Beo are favorite afternoon snacks from the central Vietnamese city of Hue. They were light and appetizing with a bit of a kick ($9).

We next chose the Julienned Green Papaya with Mango Salad with shiso, coconut cream tossed in a chili-lime vinaigrette  The salad was refreshingly delicious ($12).

The Pho Short Rib Grilled Cheese with caramelized onions, just the right amount of provolone and a delightfully satisfying shot of pho broth was outstanding ($14). This dish is a reinvented sidewalk classic.

The fragrant Stir-Fried Pho Noodles with mustard greens, trumpet mushrooms and scallions were mouthwatering. The noodles were authentically prepared and representative of Hanoi ($16).

The Scallops were perfectly prepared with brown butter nuoc Cham (fish sauce), fennel, shiso, peanuts and layered with light and scrumptious rice noodles ($26).

Van Da is a very reasonably priced treat in comfortable surroundings.

The restaurant also offers a regional set menu for parties of two or more…3 courses for $50.

Having traveled and eaten my way through Vietnam, Van Da tantalizingly represents the amazing food of Vietnam.

Van Da 234 4th Avenue New York City. Open Tuesday-Saturday 5-9:30pm. Reservations on Resy. Vegan and Gluten free available.

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