Friday, January 1, 2016

A tasty dinner at Simply Vietnamese is the best Tenafly has to offer

Drip coffee with condensed sweet milk capped my New Year Eve's meal at Simply Vietnamese, still the only restaurant in Tenafly that is worth the detour.


As we walked to our car on New Year's Eve in Tenafly, I looked around for dining options besides Simply Vietnamese, where we had just enjoyed a delicious dinner.

A block away, I saw an Asian Indian restaurant I knew nothing about.

Then, two deliverers came out of Mr. Wok, a second-floor Chinese restaurant that seems to have been open forever and now is called, Mr. Wok & Sushi.

I remember eating there once, never to return.

Down the block, a restaurant with an unusual fish-shaped window is probably the second or third to occupy the same space.

Years ago, when it was a spot for Korean-style Chinese food, I had lunch there, and saw a cockroach on the carpet.

One of the worse plates of hummus I ever had was served in a now-defunct spot in Tenafly, the pricey Hamsa.

For some strange reason, Tenafly has no appeal as a restaurant destination, despite all of its well-heeled residents.

There's far more variety and quality in neighboring Englewood, where Simply Vietnamese owner K.T. Tran operated Saigon R for many years before moving to a bigger space in Tenafly.

Maybe, there's something in the water.

And, perhaps, it's only a coincidence that nearly a decade ago, the publisher of northern New Jersey's major daily newspaper -- who lives in Tenafly -- folded the paper's award-winning Food section.

A great start to our late-afternoon meal was sharing a Vietnamese Salad ($7.50), crunchy cabbage, cucumber and carrots crowned with fresh herbs and peanuts, all in a sweet chili dressing.

My wife doesn't eat them, so I had another appetizer to myself, Broiled New Zealand Mussels in a wasabi-ginger sauce ($9.50).

Pho, the Vietnamese soup with a distinctive, anise-flavored beef broth, also is available with a vegetarian broth. My wife chose Pho with Pork ($12), which is served with bean sprouts, fresh herbs and hot peppers, below.

I should have stopped at sharing the salad and eating the mussels, but I ordered Steamed Asian Angel Hair rice thread noodles served with cooked vegetables, fresh herbs, cucumbers and red-leaf lettuce leaves for wrapping ($15.95). Unfortunately, this dish was a mess to eat, because the lettuce leaves were small and broken.

Complimentary Shrimp Chips and a spicy chili dipping sauce.

Simply Vietnamese is a BYO.


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

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