Viet Bistro has been open for about two weeks and the rumor is, that it is the new venture from the owners of the much missed Huong Tram at Hoa Binh Plaza on 16th and Washington. I didn’t get the opportunity to eat at Huong Tram, which was reputed to serve excellent food and was a huge space that families would gather at. In contrast Viet Bistro is a small joint with two booths and a couple of tables. In addition to the classic Pho, Bun, Pan Fried Noodle, and Broken Rice dishes, the menu includes vegetarian stir fries that can be made vegan and a seafood section: the Salt Pepper shrimp with shells were excellent. I didn’t try one yet, but I have been told that the Banh Mi are really good too. The only detraction for Viet Bistro is that their air handling/extraction system does not work, you will leave there with your clothes smelling like Vietnamese Food.
The Dumplings: it is not often that you see dumplings on the menu at a Vietnamese restaurant, but Viet Bistro has two styles of fried dumpling, vegetable or pork filled. The dumplings are tiny little golden nuggets that are cooked deep fried and can be popped into your mouth and eaten in one bite. The vegetable dumplings tasted like fried snacks with no real vegetable flavors and, unexpectedly, a mild fried fish flavor. I liked them. The dumplings come with a sweet and spicy chili sauce.
The Location: Viet Bistro is on South street between 16th and 17th streets, this is essentially the border of the Graduate Hospital and Rittenhouse Square neighborhoods in Philadelphia.