Good Morning Vietnam

I’ve tried almost all dishes at Good Morning Vietnam, a tiny, unassuming restaurant in downtown, and without fail they were very good—the summer roll was light and fresh; the spring roll porky; the pho rich and flavorful with tender slices of beef shank; the bun bo nam bo varied in its textures; the bun cha intensely smokey. As with all Vietnamese food, the dishes arrive smothered in herbs (chive, mint, lemon balm) and vegetables (bean sprouts, cucumbers), but there are also sweeter notes, hinting at the flavors of the gastronomically more adventurous South Vietnam.

Vegetarians will enjoy the vegetable salad (#13 on the menu), sporting a 'ham" made of tofu skin—cha lua chay—eerily similar to the real thing. They also serve ché, the funny-textured coconut pudding dessert interspersed with tapioca balls and drizzled with slices of jackfruit. I only wish that Good Morning Vietnam's interior wasn't so neglected—there's a big patch of mold on the ceiling, the leather upholsteries on the stools are disintegrating, and the low-capacity AC makes a summer meal uncomfortably hot and airless.