CTBites readers who don’t live in Bridgeport now have an excellent reason to drive and dine there with the opening of Can Tiin in the downtown area. The dishes at Can Tiin (pronounced “canteen”) lead with a Vietnamese influence, are based on French techniques, and incorporate other Asian flavors. This culinary panoply is deftly handled by Chef Brian Reilly, who explained, “We take traditional Vietnamese dishes and honor them, but allow ourselves the latitude to experiment and go out of the box a little. We continually challenge ourselves to push the envelope without getting cute or overly fussy.” The result is neither cute, nor fussy, but fun, inventive and tasty. (Read our opening announcement for details on the management team.)
Entries in Vietnamese (16)
“A lot of love in that food,” I texted to Stephanie, my CTbites partner and frequent dining companion, within an hour of our departure from the new Mecha Noodle Bar in South Norwalk during one of their training nights.
“That’s the deal. He’s a special guy. It all means something to him. It’s not just the cooking. It’s nostalgia. Family. Friends. Community,” she texted back within moments.
Following that repartee, I realized whatever I wrote about our first impression of the new Mecha would pale in comparison to that observation. Love and community is the essence of what Mecha’s food is all about, and Chef Tony Pham along with partner Richard Reyes (Mézon), is at its Asian comfort food core.
There's a new Vietnamese on the block, and we are pretty excited about this one. CanTiin, a modern French Vietnamese bistro is opening at 269 Fairfield Ave in Bridgeport this October. Can Tiin boasts Chef Brian Reilly, (you might remember the name from Vespa in Westport). Chef Brian has noodles in his culinary DNA as his resume includes the role of Executive Chef at Noodle Cat in Ohio, back when high quality noodles were just starting to catch on.
The brain behind Can Tiin is COO Kevin D Lalumiere who is also on the management team of NEAT of Darien and Westport.
Now let's talk Menus....Lunch is broken down into Pho, Banh Mi, Steam Buns, Salads & Starters, and Noodle & Frys. The Dinner menu features a mouthwatering array of dishes including Spiced Duck Breast, Pork Belly with Daikon, Crispy Rice & Coconut Crepe, Spicy Baby Octopus Stor Fry, Marrow & Miso, and a nice twist on the classic burger, a Grilled Burger Steam Bun.
We will update you on additional details and the opening date as we move into October.
Here’s a little secret...SHHHH!!! We got a tip from those in the know - and by that I mean some of Fairfield County’s finest chefs - that the place “around town” for truly authentic Vietnamese Pho is PHO HONG THOM on Wood Ave in Bridgeport. Naturally, we FORCED ourselves to give it a try. Tiny, unpretentious, even down-right plain, patrons come here for the food, not the decor. But they come. Empty when we arrived at 11:30 but jam packed by noon, PHO HONG THOM draws ‘em in and keeps ‘em coming back for more. Here’s why:
PHO HONG THOM gets its name from Hong and Thom Nguyen, owners of this family-run establishment in the heart of Bridgeport. Originally from a tiny village near Hanoi, the Nguyen family are “all in” with sons and a daughter helping out whenever possible. This is family cooking at its best and you get a hint of that as a mosaic of flavors greet your nose upon arrival. Broth is at the heart of this menu - and I’ll tell you what Pho..
What's PHO lunch today? As autumn quietly slinks in, there's nothing like a truly authentic PHO to ease us into the chill that awaits. Head on over to Q's Restaurant at 172 Main Street in Norwalk (the old Valencia Luncheria spot) for the real McCoy. Recently opened (about 3 months and counting) and charmingly tiny, Q's is the love child of husband and wife duo Charles Eaton and XiaoNing Liu. Eaton, a Vietnam Vet, met Liu (a native of Old Nanking Province in China) while he was serving a tour of duty in Asia. Together, they have brought a small menu featuring Pho as well as other Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine to their wee, little kitchen.
Post opening tweaks are commonplace during the first few months after a restaurant's opening. With Mecha’s minor changes completed, it now firmly fills the belly rumbling void of Southeast Asian Noodles and street food, popularizing Ramen, Pho and South East Asian comfort food.
Owner Tony Pham, who also owns Pho Vietnam in Danbury, saw an opportunity in Fairfield, to capture the hearts and hungry stomachs of the Fairfield U student bodies by opening a Ramen noodle bar. This small, but cozy, space is an architecturally clean, eye pleasing mix of Modern Asian décor...with a long community table in the center and block style tables around its perimeter. There is some additional seating circling the "bar" with colorful Asian ceramic stools adding some pop and a touch of elegance to this casual space. Pham is committed to keeping his two restaurants a "family affair," and you may be seated, served, or cooked for, by one of his family members!
When I first visited with Tony in September, Ramen noodles were the main attraction on his menu. Several months later, Mecha’s menu is now representative of Japan’s different regional nuances with the current soup bases including Shoyu, Miso and Chicken.
“You know how to eat that?” asked the kindly woman as she set a steaming bowl of soup before me at Pho Mai. Did I know how to eat pho? To handle the chopsticks and spoon? To lift the long noodles from the big bowl of broth without slapping myself in the face with a wet noodle? I’ve learned over the years. But Vietnamese food can be perplexing to the uninitiated. It’s hands-on.
Pho Mai makes the best Vietnamese food I’ve found in Fairfield County. It’s been open for about a year, and it’s worth a jaunt to Wood Avenue in Bridgeport (across from the Wood’s End Deli) to enjoy the fresh, herb-filled, sweet, sour, and fermented flavors of Vietnamese food.
Pho Mai’s red awnings strike a cheerful air on a bleak corner. Inside, the place is spic and span clean, with freshly painted yellow walls. Big orange fish swim back and forth in an aquarium that bubbles soothingly. The restaurant has been near empty every time I’ve been, and that’s a shame because the food here is seriously good, and it’s a great place for a weekend lunch with a group of friends.
Asher is an 8th grader at Fairfield Country Day School. He has a true passion for food and started his blog, AsherZeats, in September of 2012. Asher reviews everything from Michelin starred restaurants to great dives. This review originally ran on AsherZeats.
“Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup. “-- Ludwig Van Beethoven.
This Saturday we traveled to Vietnam Palace (a new restaurant, opened this past June) located at- 955 Ferry Boulevard, Stratford, CT in a very busy shopping center.
When we entered, we noticed two very cool statues of lions and a statue of a Buddha. The ceilings were filled with many upside down umbrellas and the restaurant was extremely clean. We also saw that it was a family run business (the best kind of business) with a very small number of people working there. When we were seated, we were greeted by an EXTREMELY friendly Husband/Wife pair who could not be any nicer.
Occasionally, we like to get a few opinions on a restaurant. Here are two shorts from Cathy Siroka and James Gribbon on Shanghai Bistro.
If you’re in South Norwalk and want a simple, easy place to go before a movie or out with the kids – try Shanghai Asian Bistro. They recently opened a second location at 124 Washington St., with their first one in Westport at 1715 Post Rd East. Owner, John Jiang, had been carefully looking for a second location for years, and has seen such a huge change in the traffic and excitement in downtown Norwalk, and finally felt that “now was the right time.”
While the menu has the Chinese classics like shrimp with duck sauce and General Tsao’s chicken, the restaurant also offers an array of other Asian inspired dishes and many ways to customize your order according to your tastes and dietary preferences. Jiang explains his menu as “all-Asian, not just Chinese, a sampling of the flavors of China, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan.”