Tidbits: A preview of VIỆTVANA Phở Noodle House in Avondale EstatesPhoto obtained via https://vietvana.com/
By Sara Amis, contributor
Chef Dinh Tran and his wife Khanh Dang are opening VIỆTVANA Phở Noodle House in the old My Way Cafe location at 2831 E. College Ave., converting the space with a sleek but warm remodel and bringing fresh and simple approach.
“My wife likes Vietnamese food in Vietnam, and for the longest time I didn’t understand that until I started going back [to Vietnam] with her,” said Tran.
Because refrigeration is still not common in Vietnam, everything must be made fresh every day. Tran believes the lack of shortcuts makes the food healthier and taste better.
Following that “fresher is better” philosophy, everything is made fresh in the restaurant every day, including the banh mi bread for sandwiches and noodles for the phở.
“We don’t put anything in the freezer,” said Tran.
Additionally, Tran and Dang have sought out local suppliers for meats and vegetables.
“We know where all of our food is coming from,” said Tran, describing a trip to Augusta to visit his supplier’s grass-fed cows.“A lot of people try to imitate the flavor of the broth by using chicken powder, but for us, if you use enough of the natural ingredient there’s no need to imitate it.”
The sampling I tried definitely lived up to expectations. Dishes like spring rolls, egg rolls, phở, and banh mi all had the confidence in simplicity that comes from good ingredients.
I especially love spring rolls and theirs, made with mint, may now be my favorite. Fried foods like the eggrolls and bánh xèo (Vietnamese crepe) were crispy but not oily.
Bánh bèo chén is a specialty from Tran’s hometown of Hue, translated on the menu as “rice cake” but not remotely like the crunchy Styrofoam sold under that name in the grocery store. It’s more like a tiny savory pudding or grits with dried shrimp, fried onions, and crunchy bits. I would have happily just eaten those for my meal except my dining companions got there first.
Tran credits his mother, Tina Nguyen who is an award-winning cook in her own right, with giving him the foundation of both his techniques and his recipes.
“Ninety percent of everything here is Tina,” said Tran. Tran and Dang’s first restaurant, KHANH Vietnamese Phở & Sandwich, is located at 2550 Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth. Tran describes VIỆTVANA as a more fully developed realization of their ideas.
“Our goal has always been making the freshest, best possible food,” added Tran.
VIỆTVANA Phở Noodle House will open in Avondale Estates on Aug. 16, 2019. Hours are Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight; Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. https://vietvana.com/