Not far from Edgar Allen Poe's cabin in Fordham Heights, this Vietnamese restaurant is located in a neighborhood known for its Cambodian community, represented by a couple of very good grocery stores. Cùm Tâm Ninh Kiệu is excellent in soups, including half a dozen pho options. The traditional noodle soup with meat is excellent and is simpler than most Saigon-influenced bowls; be sure to eat it with meat balls, it's best to remove them and dip them in chili sauce. Shortly after the inauguration of An Choi, both the New York Times and New York magazine published articles about a sandwich, bánh mì, which at that time was still relatively new to many New Yorkers, although not to diners in Houston, Seattle, San José or Westminster.
The first immigrants who settled in New York and opened restaurants, says Yen Ngo, “created more Chinese menus and had hundreds of dishes. In other words, this new generation of American Vietnamese restaurant owners in New York is distinctly different from the first-generation immigrants who preceded them. Ngo's version of aioli, made with shallots, fresh cream and pickled juice, is a love letter to white sauce accompanied by chicken and halal rice, something she liked when she moved to New York. The new generation of Vietnamese restaurants that have opened in New York in recent years have often taken a more modern approach to their menus.
Nearby, in Ngo's Van Da, you can find bánh bèo (pictured above), steamed rice cake discs and bánh it ram, which are found everywhere in the country, but not in New York. While other parts of the country, such as Houston, Seattle, or San Jose and Westminster in California, became vibrant Vietnamese-American enclaves with a solid mix of Vietnamese restaurants, bakeries and businesses, New York never quite did it. But this type of food was nothing new for Vietnamese Americans who had moved to New York from other parts of the country. Because, to a certain extent, New York was never a major part of that, given its modest Vietnamese emigrant population.
But the following week, they already had a new pop-up store and New Yorkers, many of whom follow Ha Dac Biet on social media, queued up again to feast on their periwinkle snails cooked in coconut milk, lime leaf and chili. And most of these newer kitchens were run by second-generation Americans (or in the case of Bep Ga, a French-Vietnamese immigrant in New York), who grew up outside New York, often in Vietnamese American enclaves. Strangely enough, while there is no mention of pho or bánh mì in the review, those two dishes dominated the menus of most Vietnamese restaurants in New York in the late 1970s and early 1970s. And that's exactly what this new second generation of American and Vietnamese restaurants and chefs are doing today in New York.
What also differentiates this new guard of Vietnamese restaurants and chefs from the old guard is that they have been able to harness the power of social media and, unlike the first-generation owners of the past, there simply aren't as many language barriers between them and their diners. Over the past five years, the city has become the epicenter of modern Vietnamese American cuisine, and chefs have set out to show New Yorkers that Vietnamese cuisine is much more than pho or bánh mì. According to a strange review by Craig Claiborne in the 1961 New York Times, some well-known dishes appear, such as cha giò (fried spring rolls), but, strangely enough, Claiborne discovers that the Vietnam menu “cannot be classified as exotic”. .