Sometime before 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 3rd, a 54 year old female cook at Lee’s Cafe and Bistro on the 500 block of Washington Avenue was found dead in the basement of the Vietnamese restaurant.
Police tell CBS 3 that the woman put up a fierce fight and that they are currently collecting video from businesses along Washington Avenue that may lead them to identify the suspect or suspects.
Lee’s Cafe is from the same owners as Cafe Nhu Y, the popular but tiny banh mi spot at 8th and Christian that closed in the fall of 2014.
Police: Cook Slashed, Killed During Shift At South Philly Restaurant [CBS 3]
The former BlueCat at 1921 Fairmount Avenue is now iPho, a Vietnamese eatery for Fairmount. Owner and chef Van Nguyen also owns an iPho in Atlantic City. Nguyen is excited to bring his pho, vermicelli, rice platters, noodle soups and bubble tea smoothies to a neighborhood in Philadelphia that doesn’t have much Vietnamese to speak of.
IPho is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. for lunch and dinner. Takeout and delivery is also available. A website should be online soon.
Ever hear of a Vietnamese Taphouse? Well there’s one coming to South Street. Tuan Phung is bringing Vietnamese street food and over 200 different bottles of craft beer to 712-714 South Street.
Banh Mi and Bottles will focus mostly on “street bites,” or Vietnamese tapas, but also on the menu will be Banh mi, pho, salad rolls, and other authentic Vietnamese dishes. On top of the 200 to 300 varieties of beer to choose from, Phung says they’ll have a full bar with house-made organic cocktails with a Southeast Asian influence.
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Vietnamese Paella at Papaya | Photo via Papaya Vietnamese Contemporary Tapas
On a Sunday night in late November, we weren’t the only table at Papaya Vietnamese Contemporary Tapas, but it was close.
My wife and I were there, drinking water because the place is BYO and we’d forgotten to pick up a bottle. There was the couple in the corner (smarter than us, drinking, all twinkling smiles and holding hands like they were auditioning for a jewelry store commercial,) and a family sprawling across two tables in the middle of the long, spare, narrow room—half-eaten plates of short ribs and papaya salad and special-of-the-night scallops scattered across the dark wood tables. Owner and chef Patrick Le was standing at the open kitchen’s pass, plating desserts. His mom, Thuy, shuttled back and forth between the kitchen and the big table where she sat (briefly) to talk with the family, who were obviously regulars and obviously having a great night.
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Pho from Pho 75
Philadelphia Inquirer critic, Craig LaBan has spent the last three months becoming a pho expert. LaBan has traversed Washington Avenue, explored Chinatown and peeled back the mystery of East Kensington’s pho culture to come up with his list of the best pho in Philadelphia.
Along the way, LaBan discovers, tips, tricks and some off-the-menu requests that can elevate your pho sojourns as well.
Check out our map of LaBan’s pho »
Penang and Fish-head curry from Banana Leaf | Photos by Neal Santos and Michael Persico
In Philly, Southeast Asian flavors are the gift that keeps on giving. In Point Breeze, South Philly and Chinatown, along Washington Avenue and even out in the ’burbs, there are enclaves whose composition and abstract representation of geopolitical borders are constantly shifting and changing. This means Thai and Laotian food on traditionally Vietnamese-heavy blocks, and awe-inspiring Malaysian food in Chinatown. It also means a deepening and broadening of available flavors, so if you’re looking to explore the subtle differences between Malaysian and Indonesian food, Vietnamese that goes beyond a bowl of pho, or Thai more complicated (and delicious) than a simple plate of pad Thai, there are many options.
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PRO TIP: If you add the cold garnishes a little at a time, they won’t cool the soup too quickly … and the heat plus garnishes will make for a more aromatic soup.
A Twitter follower had tipped us off that the postage stamp-sized Cafe Nhu Y had closed its doors at 8th and Christian. And after a lot of denial, we’re willing to admit that our favorite bargain banh mi spot is indeed gone for good. A similarly distressed Naked Philly confirms the closure.
And in the Italian Market, there’s the odd story about the closing of five-month old Torero Tapas Bar. The Torero web site has the paella and tapas bar moving/merging with Tabblon in Drexel Hill. The Passyunk Post reports that a neighbor says it was a landlord dispute that led to the closing.
On a recent visit to one of the many hole-in-the-wall pho joints on Washington Avenue, I saw a table of large white construction workers slurping up noodles. And while there might not be anything strange about that today, things weren’t always that way. Twenty-five years ago, when Benny Lai took over Vietnam on 11th Street from his family, no one in this town who didn’t grow up on home-cooked Asian food knew a pho from a bun. Lai opened the door, making the food more accessible while getting lots of us drunk on Flaming Volcanos and other tiki concoctions. These days, there are plenty of Vietnamese restaurants in town. But Lai’s Vietnam (and the mirror-image Vietnam Cafe in West Philadelphia) remains the place for Vietnamese dinner with out-of-towners, the in-laws, etc. Order the barbecue platter (Lai’s version of the pu pu platter), salt-and-pepper fried shrimp and some of those flaming drinks, and you’re good to go.
First appeared in the April, 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.