Vietnam Town

Orlando’s Asian district is not a place I usually venture. Not because I don’t love Thai or Chinese cooking, but I am the unfortunate head of a non-adventurous household. If I could eat in a different restaurant every night, trying different cuisines and atmospheres, I would be happy. The rest of my crew? Not so much.

So, when a co-worker brought home a menu from a lunch-time excursion to Vietnam Town, I didn’t hold out much hope for a cultural breakthrough, but I took it home anyway. To my surprise, my beloved spouse (who at least likes some Americanized Chinese) agreed to let me “drag” her there.

Vietnam Town doesn’t look like much on the outside. It is one of a bazillion Asian, mostly Vietnamese, businesses along a stretch of Colonial Drive near Mills Avenue. We parked out back in a rundown lot and walked around the corner to the front of the building, not knowing what to expect. Opening the heavy crystal doors, we stepped into a huge restaurant with lacquered tables and chairs (all embossed with “Vietnam Town”) and a strange, styrofoam island near the front.

We were greeted by the friendliest staff ever–ever–and sat down to peruse the 200+ items on the massive menu. After a little coaxing from our waiter, we ordered the summer rolls: shrimp, pork, cabbage, rice vermicelli wrapped inside a rice paper with a fabulous peanut sauce on the side. For an entree, the Mrs. got a chicken stirfry with green beans, and I took a rice platter with grilled beef, shredded pork, pate egg and sunny side egg. This was accompanied by the most wonderful hot tea ever–ever. Then, we got a plate of orange wedges as kind of an after dinner mint.

But the real shock was when I got the bill. I expected to see the usual restaurant check for the pair of us (around $30). Not so! The entire thing came to just over $19! This is the cheap diner’s nirvana! And with so many things to choose from, it will be a new favorite stop on Colonial Drive.

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