My son and I recently dined at a small but cozy restaurant in town called just that: Town. We are big fans of Vietnamese food, primarily pho, which is beef noodle soup. And with the fall chill in the air, we could think of nothing better than hot soup on an autumn evening.
The restaurant was bright and airy yet warm, with calm music playing in the backgroud. My son, who is 17, and I didn't wait long to be served. I had the rice noodle soup with brisket, flank and tendon pho, and my son had the chicken egg noodle soup mi (regular $6.50; large $7.50).
In the beef pho, the broth is full of flavor–beefy, aromatic and well-balanced, clear, non-oily and seasoned just right. There was a good amount of beef and plenty of noodles. The chicken mi also had my son's vote of approval. The broth had great flavor, containing lean, skinless chicken breast slices, egg noodles and a distinct garlic taste that blended well with the other seasonings. The bean sprouts, Asian basil, jalapenos, lime and lemon were very fresh. Lemon is not typically served with pho, in my experience, so it was good to have it as an "extra."
Town's specialty is the Town Special Combo Baby Rice Plate ($8.50). Owner Phuoc Nguyen says this dish is the most popular and most familiar among Vietnamese communities. He and his family are proud to offer their own special version, a most enjoyable combination of tastily prepared meats surrounding a mound of baby rice, which basically is broken rice, where the grains have been split and then cooked. The rice is surrounded by egg cake with pork, fried shrimp cake, shredded pork, grilled pork chop and grilled shrimp. Each of these items offers unique flavors that pop and blend nicely with the baby rice and the delicate and light dipping sauce made with fish sauce.
Before the entree, we had tried the Spring Rolls as an appetizer ($3.45). These were healthy-sized rolls of rice wrapper containing shrimp, Asian basil, pork, vermicelli noodles and lettuce. The rolls were served with a light dipping sauce with a sprinkling of broken peanuts. This was a delightful and unique sauce and not the typically expected peanut dipping sauce for spring rolls.
The Thai Ice Tea ($1.45) and the Young Coconut Juice ($2.25) made a perfect accompaniment to dinner. The coconut juice was, by far, the most flavorful coconut-tasting beverage, naturally sweet, with chunks of young coconut–and not from a can. The Vietnamese Coffee with Condensed Milk ($2.25) had full-strength espresso coffee flavor, smoothened by the milk, which made for a nice finish to the meal.
Amy Nguyen and her husband opened Town Vietnamese Restaurant in August. Her parents do the cooking, having owned their own restaurant in Vietnam for three decades. Amy's parents bring their knowledge of authentically prepared Vietnamese dishes to their new family operation. Phuoc's two sisters also help in the kitchen.
The cuisine is from Southern Vietnam and is authentic and full of fresh ingredients. The lasting impression is of a warm, clean, bright and friendly experience that includes attentive service, a pleasant atmosphere and, last but not least, quality Vietnamese food.