The Viet Nam in Spring Valley

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While having lunch with Doug on Thursday, we were discussing all kinds of food we love, including Vietnamese. It gave me a hankering, and it’s a real shame we don’t have more Vietnamese restaurants around here.

See, I had just had an amazing experience at Thanh Nhi in Austin, Texas, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the pho. So for lunch on Saturday, I headed over to the only Vietnamese restaurant in Westchester, Rockland or Putnam: The Viet Nam. My favorite dish was the crepe:

It looks like it’s made with egg, but it’s actually rice flour. After the jump, a closer look, plus photos of spring rolls and everyone’s favorite Vietnamese soup; Pho.

So the crepes are usually filled with something. Could be pork. We got shrimp. Inside is also mung beans (crispy!) and scallions (for a little heat).

If they’re made right — and this one is — the crepes are light and crispy and sort of sweet. You take a piece of lettuce and put some of the crepe inside, wrap it up and dip the whole thing in the vinegar sauce, which is made with fish sauce and shredded carrots. It’s a lovely combination.

Here’s a look at the restaurant. It’s in an ugly strip mall at the corner of Eckerson and Route 45 in Spring Valley.

It’s small inside, with cool tones of yellow and white:

They have several fruit shakes on the menu. I tried the sour sop, which tastes like sour papaya:

We also tried a coconut water, which was refreshing.

Pho is a rice-noodle soup with a deeply flavored broth. My favorite of the (many) spices and herbs that go into making it is the star anise.

The soup comes out with the meat you order in it — could be anything from shrimp to pork, but it’s usually beef. Different cuts include flank, brisket, eye of round and tripe, though the possibilities are endless. After your soup comes out, you control the condiments:

Extra mung beans, basil, mint, cilantro, and any number of hot sauces, soy and even hoisin. Pho is very subjective.

This one was quite a good rendition, though I must admit I was so blown away by the version I had in Austin that it’s hard to compare. The pho at The Viet Nam was just a little, well, thin. But still, for being not 15 minutes from my house, I’ll take it.

The spring rolls were delicious:

Light and fresh. I wouldn’t have minded a few more vegetables. But the peanut dipping sauce was thick and addicitive.

I finished with a Vietnamese coffee. They put sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of a coffee cup, and then top it with this individual drip brewer:

It takes forever, but the thick, sweet coffee is worth it.

And so is the drive out to Spring Valley for fresh and tasty Vietnamese food. Next time? Lemongrass chicken. Or maybe banh mi?

The 411 on The Viet Nam.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

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