And on top of that, there’s more to Vietnamese soup than just pho. In my opinion, my people have perfected the art of the soup. There’s so damn many. I wish someone would just open up a solely Vietnamese soup shop and sell them all. Bun bo, bun rieu, banh canh, hu tieu, canh chua, canh ca, hoanh thanh, chao, ca re, I could go on! And there’s different variations of each too. Like how you can have beef pho or chicken pho. Each Vietnamese soup can be catered to your liking. There are endless possibilities of combinations of soup.
But again like pho, there’s more to Vietnamese food than just soup as well. We have so many different rice dishes, noodles, rolls, desserts and more. The problem with America is the same as the Chinese takeout problem. The Vietnamese food exhibited here is simply a tip of the iceberg. And the other problem is it’s usually viewed as “cheap” cuisine because in the past, it’s always been that way. You walk in, you get a quick easy bowl of pho for $6-7. What I never understood is why when Vietnamese food takes a lot of prep and time to make. I remember my mom would spend a whole day making banh tet for New Years. I love banh bot loc but I also hated making them because they were so time consuming to make but so fast to eat that I could never keep up with production enough to keep me satisifed. There are a lot of complicated ingredients and prep required for each dish too. Granted there are a lot of ‘easy’ dishes to make but the art of Vietnamese cuisine is truly undervalued.
This is where Madame Vo and many other new eateries popping up recently in NYC, as well as many other areas of the world come in, as we live in this foodie renaissance. I learned about Madame Vo from the internet a few years ago when it first opened and of course, being a true judgemental AF Asian, I had to go check it for myself. My first time I was definitely impressed. The prices are definitely on the higher of Viet cuisine, but upon tasting its freshness and quality as well as the art of its presentation, you see why. Their pho broth is just like my mom’s. Made fresh and concentrated, not watered down like Chinatown cheap restaurants where you could tell they added water to the remaining pot as their stock ran low instead of making a fresh new pot of broth. They give you more than enough noodles so you don’t leave feeling like there should’ve been more. They also don’t skimp on meat in your bowl either. Their Madame platter is my favorite and best if you go with a big group to help you finish, as it is a lot of food. It’s a nice appetizer platter to get a taste of a little bit of everything they have to offer. I ended up coming back a few more times with more friends even though I don’t usually frequent this neighborhood often. And now even my siblings frequent this spot regularly. They make great bun bo as well as their pho. And their suon kho makes me nostalgic for my mom’s home cooking all the time. They do have a small selection on their menu compared to Chinatown restaurants but it should be noted that they take their time preparing and making sure those dishes are foodie worthy. I do hope they expand into offering some lesser known dishes soon too, like the rarer ones you can’t find in regular restaurants - like of course, my favorite - banh bot loc.