Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pizzeria is displacing Vietnamese restaurant

Street Scene, Fort Lee, New Jersey, 1951Image by aldenjewell via Flickr
Fort Lee street scene in 1951.

Mo' Pho in Fort Lee was the second Vietnamese restaurant from Chef K.T. Tran, specializing in the anise-flavored soup called pho.

But the restaurant at 212 Main St. has closed, and the facade is being renovated by the owner of a pizzeria and restaurant.

I described a bowl of pho this way:

"When Joe the waiter set down my bowl of pho with shrimp, I leaned close to the anise-scented beef broth and breathed deeply. Wonderful. You'd be hard put to find a soup that matches the aroma of this one." 

An Italian-American restaurant replacing a Vietnamese one is counter to the trend in Fort Lee, where Korean restaurants have proliferated in recent years.

Several blocks down Main Street, the facade of So Kong Dong also is being renovated, but the Korean soft-tofu restaurant remains open for business.

Side dishes galore 

On the way to a Suzanne Vega concert on Thursday at Bergen Community College in Paramus, we stopped for a soft-tofu stew dinner at Pine Hill Restaurant.

I continue to be impressed by how many free side dishes this Korean restaurant serves, while others have cut back noticeably.

After we ordered seafood soft-tofu stews ($10.45 each), the waitresses set down 10 small dishes on the table between me and my wife.

Our side dishes included fish cake, stewed tofu, kimchi, bean sprouts, iceberg-lettuce salad, yams in sweet syrup, steamed greens and half of a broiled small fish.

Unlike Korean restaurants specializing in soft tofu, Pine Hill serves a stone-bowl egg souffle, instead of a fresh egg to cook in the soup. 

And the waitress brought us a bowl of nutty brown rice, instead of usual steamed white rice, plus a second dish of cabbage kimchi when we asked for them.

Pine Hill Restaurant, 123 Paramus Road, Paramus; 
201-843-0170. Open for lunch and dinner.

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