NJ Dining: Mo’ Pho’ (UPDATED)

September 19, 2010

MoPho
212 Main St, Fort Lee, NJ
(201) 363-8886

Note: While Mo’ Pho’ in Fort Lee remains open, it’s Englewood sister restaurant, Saigon R. closed on August 30, 2010 and re-opened as Simply Vietnamese in nearby Tenafly. For more information on Simply Vietnamese, click here.

As summer comes to an end and the weather starts getting rainy and a bit chilly, I start getting that craving for Asian noodle soups again. There’s no question in my mind that my all time favorite type of noodle soup has to be Pho, the anise-flavored beef bone broth and the national dish of Vietnam.

Northern New Jersey has a couple of notable Vietnamese restaurants, but there is a special place in my heart for Mo Pho, the flagship restaurant owned and managed by Khan “K.T.” Tran, a talented female chef who is carrying out the culinary traditions of her mother, who once catered embassy functions for Southeast Asian dignitaries and heads of state for the Republic of Vietnam.

I’ve been to Mo Pho (and it’s sister restaurant that recently closed, Saigon R.) so many times and K.T. has become such a close friend that I have to admit I am probably unfairly biased towards her food. Overall, her cuisine is not the kind of hardcore (and less expensive) offal-centric, employing weird cuts of meat, Vietnamese street stall food or authentic in exacting detail like Nha Trang in Jersey City,  Huong Viet in Nutley or even Bloomfield’s Binh Duong — this is a more refined interpretation of Vietnamese food more suited to American customers.

Still, when I have a Pho craving, its K.T.’s that really does the trick for me. Her broth is simmered for an entire day and is far more intensely flavored with beef bones than any other I’ve had in the area, including Pho stalls I’ve visited in NYC. It’s not the super clear Pho broth you see at most places; its got a much darker color and is somewhat cloudier due to the residual gelatin, giving the soup a much more satisfying and comforting mouthfeel.

Mo’ Pho’ storefront on Main Street in Fort Lee. Mo Pho now has a new sister restaurant in Tenafly, Simply Vietnamese.

Mo’ Pho’s dining room.

Click the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to see all the food photos in this post.

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NJ Dining: Huong Viet

February 15, 2010

Huong Viet
358 Passaic Avenue, Nutley NJ

When your favorite restaurants close, there is always a mourning period. Sometimes, you know that they are going to be gone forever, but in other cases, you get a glimmer of hope, hearing rumors that they may open again somewhere else.

One such restaurant was Little Saigon in Montclair, a Vietnamese favorite with a loyal clientele. Little Saigon had closed before, due to a fire in its original Nutley location on Franklin Avenue in 2003. The restaurant  re-opened in 2005 in a much larger Montclair space on Elm Street. In October of 2009, Little Saigon closed suddenly and without any warning.

But late last year we heard rumors that the owners were going to re-open, and re-open it did, in the original town where it all started, in Nutley. However, “Little Saigon” is no longer — it has returned to business, with the same owners, as Huong Viet on Passaic Avenue, in a much more manageable space than its previous location.

Huong Viet is the new Pho King of Nutley. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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