Photo by Caitlin Abrams
The top result of my search for “Vo’s Vietnamese menu” led me to a site that listed such specialties as shaken beef, catfish in clay pot, and grilled rack of lamb. These are all items I’ve sampled at the iconic Slanted Door in San Francisco, so I was pumped as I entered Vo’s Vietnamese in the former El Meson space in Uptown. Once seated, I found relatively limited Vietnamese standards that didn’t remotely resemble what I’d seen online. Later I discovered the site was for a restaurant in California. And so go the trials of restaurant reviewing.
As for the local version, it was pleasant enough but nothing extraordinary, with typical southeastern Asian mainstays: pho, banh mi, bun and BBQ plates, plus an extensive list of vegetarian dishes. The one standout dish I’d cite is the classic French-influenced fried potato sauté—a stir-fry boasting chip-crisp wafers of sliced potato and tender morsels of beef. All it needed was a bit more protein. Also noteworthy were the light, feathery-skinned egg rolls and an unusual appetizer of tasty grilled pork patties with crunchy papaya slices in a pleasant, flavorful broth. Aside from slightly chewy meat, I also enjoyed Vo’s rendition of sweet and sour pork. My major criticism is that too many dishes rely on the same vegetarian fillers: onion, carrot, broccoli, and cabbage, all with a tendency toward blandness.
What deserves praise is the quality of the service. The owner, his wife, and the waitstaff were as accommodating as they come, and the overall hospitality was first-rate. 3450 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-584-3630, vosvietnamese.com