Good Morning Vietnam

Here’s the good news: I’ve tried almost all dishes at Good Morning Vietnam, a tiny Downtown restaurant, 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 cooked beef shank; the bun bo nam bo varied in its textures; the bun cha intensely smokey. None of them were the best I’ve had, but the food at Good Morning Vietnam is the most consistently reliable across the whole menu.

As with all Vietnamese food, the dishes at Good Morning Vietnam are smothered in herbs and vegetables, mostly chive, mint, lemon balm, bean sprouts, and cucumbers, but also fried garlic, peanuts, and notes of sweet sauces, hinting at the flavors of the gastronomically more adventurous South Vietnam. Vegetarians will get a kick out of the vegetable salad on the menu (#13) that sports a tofu skin-based Vietnamese vegetarian ham (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.

What detracts from the dining experience at Good Morning Vietnam is the bizarrely neglected interior which is all but Instagram-worthy: there is a big patch of mold on the ceiling; the leather upholsteries on the stools are disintegrating; the low-capacity AC makes a summer meal here uncomfortably hot and airless.