Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Vietnam Palace : Philadelphia

I've seen brief allusions to the rivalry between Vietnam Palace and Vietnam, across the street, perhaps best explained by Laban's 05 Vietnam Palace review.

But if there's still an ongoing rivalry between the two restaurants, I want no part of it. This meal was *the* worst meal in Philly. Bar none.

It really came down to the food and before any fans of the place become hot and bothered, my gf and I quickly realized that this serves Americanized style Vietnamese food. That's not the issue. It was the freshness of the ingredients that really irked us.

Papaya salad w/ chicken - Papaya slivers, with fish sauce, peanuts, basil pieces & chicken. The chicken pieces ranged from terrible to gag-inducing. Mealy, rubbery, terrible tasting. Simply not fresh and this was just unforgivable. One of the first times, we came nowhere close to finishing the meat in a dish.

Charboiled beef short ribs - Smokey, sweet sauce. I can definitely see why Philadining compared this to Korean BBQ short ribs. Americanized yes, overly reliant on the sauce yes, but I can see it. But again, the problem was ingredients. The beef, while not as laughably bad as the chicken, was also noticeably not fresh. It was not as tender as it should have been and required a lot of chomp and pull, pull, pull to get the disturbingly rubbery meat off the bone. And the accompanying vegetable slices were not fresh. Yes, we tried every single one: cucumbers - yuck. Carrots - bleh. Tomatoes - ralph. Onions - wtf. Really? How far away from Reading Terminal Market are you again?

Fried wide noodles with sate beef - Oh man, at this point, we felt like we were dining at an Asian restaurant in Hartford again. Besides the patronizing Americanized sauce, every ingredient in this dish was insulting. Canned pineapples, canned bamboo shoots, canned baby corn. Limply cooked rice noodles. And then topped with that bland, Americanied sweetened sauce. Ugh, utter hell.

The funny thing was that before the dishes came out, I was congratulating myself for taking the time to surreptiously photograph some interior shots, which I'll include here: (I will say that the interior was surprisingly fairly classy [minus the odd neon blue-lit bar that is], particularly striking for being in Chinatown.)

But I'm here for the food, not for your glass lady-silhouette waterfall thing. And the food didn't do it for me one bit.

Vietnam Palace
222 N 11th St Philadelphia, PA 19107-1721 (Map)
(215) 592-9596

1 comment:

  1. During a discussion with a friend about the Vietnam/Vietnam Palace debate, I mentioned that I was a Vietnam supporter, despite never having been to Vietnam Palace.

    After reading about your trip to VP, that's not going to change!