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On Saturday night, we got a refresher course in the wonderful pho soup and other dishes from the kitchen of K.T. Tran by visiting her new restaurant, Simply Vietnamese, in Tenafly.
The restaurant, a former pizzeria, opened one week before and has been greeted enthusiastically by residents of Tenafly, said Joe The Waiter, who followed Tran from Saigon R, the Englewood restaurant she closed this summer.
Simply Vietnamese is a welcome addition to Tenafly, which isn't much of a restaurant town despite all of its wealthy residents. For example, I can't imagine how Mr. Wok, a mediocre Chinese restaurant, has survived all these years.
We shared two appetizers, miniature spring rolls ($5), served with lettuce for wrapping and fish sauce for dipping; and broiled New Zealand mussels (photo) in a wasabi-ginger sauce ($8.50).
Each of us ordered a bowl of pho -- garnishing the anise-flavored broth with herbs, bean sprouts, hoisin sauce and hot peppers. My son chose soup with spicy jerk beef, I had tofu and vegetables and my wife ordered shrimp ($12 and $14 each).
When my bowl was set down before me, I breathed deeply to capture that distinctive anise flavor. There's nothing else like it in the world of Asian soup noodles.
Joe The Waiter said Tran was going to raise prices after holding the line for three years in Englewood, and she has done so in Tenafly.
Why did she move? She had only six tables in Englewood and the parking was impossible, the chef-owner said. In the window of the Tenafly restaurant, look for the neon "Saigon" from the old place, which she opened in 2001.
Tran also is the chef/owner of Mo' Pho on Main Street in Fort Lee.
Simply Vietnamese, 1 Highwood Plaza, Tenafly;
201-568-7770. BYO. Free street parking.