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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Five Best Vietnamese Restaurants in St. Louis

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Selecting Riverfront Times' Best of St. Louis 2011 was no picnic. Choosing the winner meant several worthy candidates would go unmentioned -- until now. In this Gut Check series, we are chewing our way through notable runners up in a number of categories. To see hundreds more winners and finalists and download the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis mobile app, visit our Best of St. Louis homepage.

click to enlarge Heo lui, a barbecued pork shish kabob appetizer, at this year's "Best Vietnamese Restaurant" - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
  • Heo lui, a barbecued pork shish kabob appetizer, at this year's "Best Vietnamese Restaurant"

In 2011, our "Best Vietnamese Restaurant" also happened to be St. Louis' oldest Vietnamese restaurant. This was no legacy award. It stood out among very, very strong competition.

The banh xeo at Little Saigon Café - DEBORAH HYLAND
  • Deborah Hyland
  • The banh xeo at Little Saigon Café

5. Little Saigon Café (10 North Euclid Avenue; 314-361-8881)

This Central West End mainstay balances favorites like pho tai (beef noodle soup) and goi cuon (spring rolls) with more ambitious -- and, yes, more expensive -- dishes like sauteed prawns with asparagus and salmon cooked in a hot pot. Be sure to try the cha Saigon, fried spring rolls with a crisp (but not greasy) exterior.

click to enlarge Pho at Pho Long - IAN FROEB
  • Ian Froeb
  • Pho at Pho Long

4. Pho Long (8629 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-997-1218)

Is it fair to include a restaurant that serves little more than variations of one dish in this list? When that dish is pho and the restaurant is Pho Long, the answer is yes. The pho here is incredible, the broth so deeply flavored that the usual additions (basil, lime, etc.) are hardly necessary -- though, of course, you can and should doctor the dish to your liking. Pho Long caters to novice and aficionado alike, with basic beef pho as well as soup loaded with tripe and tendon.

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