Sunday, May 6, 2012

Here's the only reason to dine out in Tenafly

At Simply Vietnamese in Tenafly, complimentary shrimp chips and hot sauce will awaken your taste buds for the bright flavors of appetizers, soups and entrees.

As an Englewood resident for decades, I had little reason to drive to the neighboring town of Tenafly for something to eat.

Tenafly is a wealthier town, but in the past, its lack of diversity made for a lackluster restaurant scene.

I did have a couple of wonderful meals at the Green Door Cafe, which served organic and naturally raised or grown food before it was closed by a fire.

Then, in 2010, Chef K.T. Tran moved her popular restaurant from its cramped quarters on Palisade Avenue in Englewood to Highwood Avenue in Tenafly, and renamed it Simply Vietnamese.

It has proven such a big hit, she expanded and closed Mo' Pho, her soup-focused restaurant in Fort Lee, to devote full time to the venture.

Now, we drive to Tenafly from Hackensack for a regular fix of this delicious, reasonably priced food.


My favorite entree is basa fillet in a spicy curry coconut-milk sauce.
Appetizers include New Zealand Mussels; Vietnamese Salad, right; and a Summer Roll.


A bowl of Pho noodle soup with pork and a plate of garnishes.

Chef/Owner K.T. Tran taking a break from cooking.
  
On May 1, we had another terrific meal at Simply Vietnamese, where great service is provided by waiters Joe and Peter, and the rest of the staff.

I started with those green-lip mussels from New Zealand in a wasabi-ginger sauce, and had some Vietnamese Salad, chopped vegetables and mango dressed in fish sauce ($8.95 each).

The rest of my family shared a special, a Summer Roll with Chicken and Asian Pear with dipping sauces ($8.95).

My entree of basa, a farmed catfish from Vietnam, was served over a bed of bok choy in a spicy coconut-milk sauce, with a side of brown rice ($19). 

I took more than a third of the generous portion home, and ate it for breakfast the next day.

For meat eaters

My wife had Pho, an anise-flavored noodle soup that is the specialty of the house; my son chose the House Noodle Soup with Ribs, which has thicker noodles ($12 each); and my mother-in-law-enjoyed Garlic Beef ($17).

The two simply decorated dining rooms have walls painted a deep red. 

Unfortunately, like too many restaurants in North Jersey, the menu doesn't tell you much about the origin of the poultry, meat and seafood served here.

Still, once you've eaten at the Vietnamese BYO, it likely will be the only reason to dine out in Tenafly.

Korean restaurants

Down the street from Simply Vietnamese is a Korean-style Chinese restaurant with an unusually large, fish-shaped window, and on Washington Street, you'll find a Korean fried-chicken restaurant, Unidentified Flying Chicken.

Washington Street also has a kosher deli, a pizzeria; Chez Cheese, a gourmet shop with homemade soups for takeout, and other food businesses.

Simply Vietnamese, 1 Highwood Ave., Tenafly; 201-568-7770. BYO, free street parking. 

Hong Bo Suk is a Korean-Chinese restaurant.
I was disappointed by the bland hummus at Hamsa, and never returned.
Two cafes are on Washington Street, above, and in the old railroad station, below.



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