Huong Vietnamese Restaurant Worth the Trip

Shoddy service aside, the cuisine is excellent.

Although the small space looks like a dive, service is laughable and they do not take reservations, Huong Vietnamese Restaurant is worth seeking out. The tasty food is inexpensive, which also adds to the appeal of this restaurant. Dinner for two was $35 with tax and tip and we were stuffed.

We started with refreshing summer rolls (two cut in half) filled with shrimp and pork accompanied by a spicy peanut sauce. The shrimp can be seen through the thin rice paper that also created a visually attractive dish. This, and a special of highly recommended silky, stir-fried eggplant that had a riveting ginger sauce, were the two “healthiest” apps, as the other two dishes, although A-plus, were fried. Romaine lettuce leaves and mint were used as wrappers for the crunchy and sweet, fried sweet-potato nests with shrimp; a dish without many textures and tastes. Another special, fried banana blossoms looked like a latka. The moist interior was bready with tender leaves similar to an artichoke. Stir-fried rice noodles with assorted vegetables and seafood was bland, but once squirted with hoisin sauce the flavor was ramped up. Fabulously fatty and tender char-broiled lemongrass beef on skewers were gobbled up. It was a hot evening, so we bypassed the pho which is on our list to try next time.

You do not go to Huong Viet for the service. Neither plates nor silverware were replaced and we had a strange conversation with our waitress that involved questions about the banana blossoms, which no one had ever had before.

Me: “Can you tell me about the banana blossoms?”
Waitress: “ I can’t answer that question.”
Me: “Can someone else answer that question?”
Waitress: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Would the owner know?”
Waitress:“ I can’t answer that question.”

Huong Viet is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

Huong Viet
358 Passaic Avenue

Fried sweet-potato nests with shrimp

Char-broiled lemongrass beef
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

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