The pho ga is flavorful, the eel is delicious, the salted fish fried rice is dangerously addictive, and it you’re looking for real Vietnamese food that can hang with the home cooking of people’s grandmothers from the Old Country, you NEED this place. Alice Patis and Carb Lover are both pleasantly reminded of childhood and Mom’s home cooking when they eat here.
The menu offers so many choices that it’s hard to pick just a few things to order. Salads are full of interesting textures and fresh, herbal flavors. Crispy “burnt” rice (com chay, $4.50) makes a perfect foil to pungent, salty, oily minced pork (mam ruoc hue xao xa ot thit heo, $8.95). And the fried rice (com chien ca man, $7.95) is humble in appearance but transcendent in flavor and texture. The rice is amazingly tender, and the “dried salted fish reminded me of the transformative power of anchovies,” says Carb Lover. Luon xao lan (stir-fried eel, $9.95) is a very tasty dish–the eel is served in chunks, bone-in, stir-fried with mild, sweet onions and glass noodles, and sauced with a very fine blend of yellow curry, coconut juice, lemongrass, and hot pepper.
Have a refreshing avocado smoothie if you like ($3). And if you’re not sure what to order, ask the staff–they’re very nice, helpful, and friendly.
Nha Toi Restaurant [South Bay]
480 E. William St., btwn. 10th and 11th Streets, San Jose 95112