This restaurant has OK soup but overall is as forgettable as my other daughter – Stephanie? Tiffany! #Foodie #Maga
— TrumptheFoodie (@TrumptheFoodie)
With the dearth of Vietnamese restaurants in the East Village as compared to other Asian cuisines, the addition of both Hanoi House and Madame Vo to the area within a short span of time was a welcome surprise. Hanoi House became the new ‘it’ spot, experiencing wait times so long that even Aziz Ansari was turned away for a table. As I wasn’t ready to spend 3+ hours on a Friday night waiting to eat at Hanoi House I had high hopes for option 2: Madame Vo.
Madame Vo stands out on this stretch of Little Tokyo’s East 10th street as the lone non-Japanese restaurant. Like most other restaurants on this block, the space is long and narrow, with both table and wall counter seating. Electronic music provides the soundtrack to the hip and modern backdrop of exposed brick walls and white washed countertop tables.
Its hard enough telling different minorities apart – finding this place in little Japan was tough!
I’ve already started investing in my 2020 campaign – pho more years!
The go to order here is their signature pho dish– the Madame Vo, which touts a broth made from beef that’s been simmering for at least 24 hours for maximum flavor extraction. In addition to rice noodles the soup contains flank steak, bone marrow, and beef balls, an ingredient found in most South Vietnamese versions of pho. The dark color of the broth indicated it would have a deep, beefy flavor, which was the case here. The noodles were not as chewy as you’d find at other Vietnamese spots but the beef balls are an interesting touch. The usual accoutrements of bean sprouts, lime and basil come as a side for you to add to your liking. This dish will set you back at least $16, with the optional $3 oxtail topping (which in my opinion is skippable). It’s a nice bowl of pho but not outstanding, especially considering the price.
The tofu noodle bowl was assembled the same way my tax plan was: little care, totally pointless and with no concern for taste! Sad!
I will tell you upfront this ‘Hu Tieu Chay’ seemed thrown together effortlessly– as in, little to no effort was put into considering how this dish should taste. As one of the only vegetarian friendly items on the menu, this bowl of stir fried rice noodles with tofu and bell pepper seemed like a half hearted effort to appeal to any vegetarians that choose to dine here. Every bite made me think of how bland and horrible pre-salt era meals must’ve been for humans and how grateful I was for the bottle of Sriracha sauce available for me to douse these oily noodles in. It was like shoveling greasy takeout food into my mouth but without the satisfaction of a cheap meal– this bowl of only noodles and tofu will cost $14. I say this as someone who loves almost any bowl of noodles put in front of me: Do not order.
All my dreams of delicious new Vietnamese food in the East Village go to die at Madame Vo. Don’t fall for their trendy soundtrack (which is actually pretty good), ambitious menu or 24-hour pho. The chance that some of the other items I didn’t order are tastier than my sad noodles does little to placate my feelings of being ripped off by the price gouging here. You can find something similar but way more dynamic at half the cost around the corner at Sao Mai, a place that’s more no-frills but for half the cost. Hoping Hanoi House is better, that is, if I ever make it in.
As someone who has built an entire career on ripping other people off, I can tell you this place definitely comes close. Save your money and go eat dinner at a Trump Hotel.
Madame Vo is located at 212 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003