Benny Lai's new offshoot of Vietnam, a longtime Chinatown favorite, brings the same meaty Pho Dac Biet and — mmmm — crispy pork spring rolls to the West Philly crowd with a smaller (32 seats) but just-as-chic version of the original. Unlike the first, this one's BYOB—-which, as Lai points out, just helps maintain those super-affordable price points that make both Vietnam’s that much more loveable.
This place is run by people who do not understand service or simply do no care. To serve a customer requires not only to be efficient but also to accommodate those small requests that make for a general pleasant eating experience.
Just as the reviewer above was treated badly because she requested consideration when she was cold, so were my daughter and I.
It starts when on the menu, not very prominently, they notify you that there is a minimum consumption of ten dollars a person. There are numerous dishes on the menu below that price, but obviously if you are not hungry, they do not want to serve you. The just do not want to be bothered.
I ordered a dish that included noodles with a fried spring roll. While the spring roll was good, the bed of noodles on which it was served was totally cold, which in turn made the rest of the dish just as disagreeable. My daughter ordered a dish of shrimp served similarly, and her noodles were also cold. We agreed that while the flavors were good the dishes were mediocre as served.
My daughter wanted dessert. So she ordered a taro root with coconut milk concoction that was indeed delicious. But as she could not finish it because she was no longer hungry, I asked the owner for a small container so we could carry it out.
He got visibly disturbed and told me that the restaurant does not sell desserts to go. Well. I proceeded to remind him that we ordered the dish to eat it in the restaurant, not to take out, and that only because we could not finish it we wanted the leftovers to go.
The gentleman got even more angry and rushed to retrieve a menu with the apparent reason to show me that they do not sell desserts to go, as if that were the issue. At that point my daughter, more mature that both the owner and I, got up and told me that she did not want the dessert that badly, that it was not worth it. So we left, sans the dessert but six dollars richer from the tip I did not leave.
Philadelphia has tons of great restaurants, and dozens of Vietnamese restaurants that do not skimp on gracious service. Why anyone would want to patronize this place is beyond me. Posted by A: May. May 5th, 2009 at 12:28 AM
Much anticipated restaurant turns disappointing. We live nearby and love vietnamese food. The folks running the place try to be professional but actually are insensitive to the diners. The food is good but:they hover over you;want you in and out in quick time; the kitchen does not pace the food well; they told us last time that we need to spend $10 minimum next time, they are telling us how to eat; they forget this is a neighborhood and we have supported their deli for many years; we don't want to feel rushed eating; they need to loosen up and let people enjoy eating there. Now we will just go the Laotian place around the corner (vientiene) and enjoy a leisurely dinner with a cordial staff. Posted by george: Mar. March 17th, 2008 at 1:02 PM