Fourth Avenue between Main and Washington is a mostly neglected, slightly seedy downtown Seattle block. But its fortunes seem to be rising. The new fire station to the northeast and the artist lofts and All City Coffee to the northwest are spawning a resurgence in the area. This block has only one, single story building which is currently home to one and a half operating businesses: The Viet My Vietnamese restaurant and the occasionally open, excessively sketchy Dome Stadium Tavern. There is new life coming though. On our way out to brave Viet My today we ran into Josh Henderson, of Skillet Street Food fame, working on his new kitchen and walk-up counter that will be the newest addition to the block. He said that they are trying to open up in early April.
We knew Viet My was there, but had not summoned the courage to visit until recently. After extending our range north there was no more ignoring this ID outpost. Today six brave luncher show up hungry and ready to serve (or actually be served).
Luncher: AdamLunch: 32 - Tofu Sate - $7.00
This was my second time to Viet My... so I've got a couple of data points to base my review off of. This time around the 2-person (maybe 3-person?) team was busy serving and cooking the nearly-full restaurant. The server (also the owner, I believe) would dash out with some food, then run back to help in the kitchen. We were allowed more than ample time to make our decisions for food, and I went a vegetarian option (because I miss Rob): Tofu Sate
So, I'm not sure I've ever eaten a Sate soup before (at least I've never had one like this)... but it's spicy peanut "broth" with noodles, veggies, and tofu. The noodles were a great firmness and were easy to scoop and chew... not rubbery at all. The tofu went well with the peanut flavor; the tofu was fried, and I think soft tofu may have been better... but that's totally a personal preference. If you like peanut-y things (like Thai swimming rama), you'll definitely like this dish. If you're allergic to peanuts, there isn't enough research going on at Duke to save you.
Don't let the exterior of the place scare you (like it did to me). Don't let the crazy ceiling tiles disorient you (like they did to me). Focus on the food, and you may very well find a keeper in your "I'm so hip because I know dingy restaurants with good food" repertoire.
Luncher: GearyLunch: 34 - Bun This Nuong - Grilled Pork - $7.00
Viet My is a bit like the Chameleon XLE, it's surprisingly nice on the inside compared with its dingy exterior. The first thing that caught my eye was the amazing faux painted tin ceiling with golden dragons on a bright red background, an obvious relic of a past occupant. There is art on the walls and plastic flower arrangements all around. It has a nice airy, clean feeling with the exception of the occasional fly that buzzed past. The place was about three quarters full when we arrived and grabbed the last large table. There were only two people, one server/cook and one cook, running the place and it showed. It took 15 minute before they even took our order. I went with the Bun noodles with BBQ pork.
The food arrived reasonably quickly once we got our order in. They got my order wrong, but politely corrected the mistake and expidited a replacement. The noodles and pork are presented in a fancy square bowl with crinkle cut carrots and daikon. The pork was a funny shade of maroon. (Luckily it didn't taste maroon.) The pork was very flavorful with lots of ginger and lemon grass and together with the cold noodles and sweet fish sauce made a tasty lunch, but something had a healthy MSG kick that got me all a tingly. Aside from the wait, it was a good meal.
Luncher: EmmettLunch: 33 - Bun Thit Ga - Grilled Chicken - $7.00
I generally enjoy Vietnamese places over Chinese/Cantonese food because the dishes tend to be less fried, less saucy. I was excited for this place - another hole in the wall with a dumpy sign. We arrived and the place as quite full for the time of day. The service took forever - we probably waited 10 minutes to place our order. The poor guy behind the counter was working the whole restaurant it seemed.
I ordered the Bun Thit Ga. It was good - not Pho Bac but pretty decent nonetheless. There was a little less meat that I would have expected for the price, but the noodles were tasty, and the Nuoc cham had a nice flavor. I also wish there were more leafy greens.
If the service were quicker I might make this a more regular choice.
Luncher: JaredLunch: 29 - Chicken Sate - $7.00
Luncher: MichaelLunch: 47 - Banh Xeo - Chicken Crepe - $7.50
Fortune: Your lover will be true to you.
Funny story: The outside of this building is so run down and unapealing that the guys were afraid to eat here for more than a year. It all looks much better on the inside.
The service today was a bit slow - but the food got here in the end and it was good. My Crepe was big and tasty - but I've never really figured out what to do with all those extra green things on the side. If I try to wrap a bite of crepe up with the leaves and dip it in the sauce I always end up with a mess. A big mess.
Overall the food at Viet My is good. Darn good. But it doesn't stand out as any better than the other places in the neighborhood. I would go back, but it might not be my first choice.
Luncher: DaveLunch: 41 - Bun This Bo Loi Xa - Lemongrass Beef - $7.25
Fortune: You can breeze through most of the day.
The place doesn't look too promising from the outside, but inside it's much more inviting. first, the service: it took waaaaay too long for us to have our order taken, but from that point the service was fine. there was a minor mix-up with geary's order, but it was quickly and painlessly resolved. i had some tasty lemongrass-beef bun, and it was as good as the bun is at nearly every other place i've had it in the ID. green leaf beats it, but not by a mile, and it's close to on par with pho bac. the sauce was a good balance of the four magic flavors (salty, spicy, sour, sweet), the pickled carrot and daikon were tasty, the lemongrass beef was well seasoned and well cooked. the only downside is that i think it's a bit more expensive than pho bac, but not substantially better. that said, if the crowd were going here, i wouldn't hesitate to come back.
Viet My PhotosViet My
Viet My Interior & Ceiling
Viet My Menu (oddly glossy)
Viet My Menu
Banh Xeo - Chicken Crepe
Bun Thit Ga - Grilled Chicken
Bun This Nuong - Grilled Pork
Bun This Bo Loi Xa - Lemongrass Beef
Future home of Skillet Street Food's kitchen and walk-up counter