Tag Archives: bahn mi

Huong

Cuisine: Vietnamese
1270 Morse Road
614.825.0303
Open daily for lunch and dinner: hours vary (close early on Tuesday)
Website: http://huongvr.blogspot.com/

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This winter we’ve tried a number of Vietnamese restaurants and Huong was definitely one of our favorites. We were instantly taken with the colorful dining room complete with plastic fruit trees, flowers and a large wall mural, as well as with the charming staff.

The menu is divided into appetizers, rice vermicelli, noodle soups, rice dishes and rice rolls. There is also an extensive selection of desserts, most of which are drinks and even include a durian smoothie. Banh mi sandwiches and congee (rice porridge), while not listed on the menu, are offered daily. They also have weekend specials that may include sticky rice, Vietnamese dumplings and Vietnamese baguettes. This is, so far, the only place in Columbus we have seen that serves congee.

To start we shared a Vietnamese crepe with shrimp, pork, mung beans and herbs. This was pretty similar to the Korean pancake we have had at Arirang. What was different was that this was served with a different dipping sauce (the same as served with bun cha) and a plate of lettuce leaves and fresh herbs. The crepe was crisp, the fillings generous and the dish met with universal approval.

We also sampled a pho, pho tai bo vien (noodle soup with rare steak and beef ball). The broth was good, if a little greasy, and had a fairly strong star anise note.

We ordered bun heo which was bun cha (rice vermicelli noodles on top of lettuce) with egg rolls and pork. This is a dish we order a lot and and serves as a useful comparison between restaurants. It was average, which is to say good, and the crinkle cut radish on top was a notable addition.  As you can see, it also comes with a generous topping of peanuts.

We tried one of the desserts, fried banana wrapped in sweet rice with coconut milk and peanuts. It was good but perhaps not overly exciting.

Vietnamese coffee is available iced or hot. The hot coffee is served as shown below, brewed at the table with a Vietnamese-style ‘over the cup’ drip coffee maker which dispenses coffee into a dollop of sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of the mug below.

It felt like we barely scratched the surface and will definitely return to Huong to try some of their other menu items and weekend specials.

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Mi Li Cafe

Cuisine: Vietnamese
5858 Columbus-Wooster Road
Columbus Square Shopping Center
614.899.9202

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Until recently Mi Li Cafe was our go-to for Vietnamese food. Although we have now tried most of the Vietnamese restaurants in town (that we know of…), Mi Li is still easily our number one place for banh mi sandwiches. A banh mi is a Vietnamese sub made with crusty french bread, sliced pork, house-made pate, mayo, cilantro, jalapenos, carrot and cucumber. It is a wonderfully refreshing mix of crunchy and chewy, spicy and cool, and is exceptionally satisfying. They are also very good value, too. We didn’t think that the bahn mi could get much better until we tried the new banh mi with grilled pork. It’s a winner.

While we usually head to Mi Li when we’re craving a banh mi sandwich, we have managed to sample, at one time or another, everything on the fairly limited menu. One of our other favorites is the new bun cha giothit nuong, rice vermicelli and salad topped with egg rolls and barbecue pork. The barbecue pork really is that good.

The banh cuon is a rice crepe with minced pork, pork patties, bean sprouts, cucumber, basil, fried onions and a fish vinaigrette. Good but not as superlative as the above dishes.

Mi Li also has an above average pho, the Vietnamese staple, with our preference going to their pho dac biet (noodle soup with beef, tripe and meatballs).  The bo kho (beef stew) has a richly spiced broth that also hits the spot.

The cafe has an unusual atmosphere that is a cross between a cafe and a waiting room. The rack of glossy magazine made it a little like a trip to the hairdressers, and like many Asian restaurants the TV can be a little loud but you can flip through Cosmo while you sip the potent Vietnamese coffee.  Or play pool!

Beyond the Vietnamese coffee, Mi Li’s beverage choices include frozen bubble tea and some more adventurous options including che ba mau which is three types of beans and coconut milk and sam bo luong, a drink made with seaweed and ginko nuts. Trying both of these drinks seems to have given us a certain respect with the proprietor – she repeatedly exclaims surprise at how brave we are. If you like coconut milk and red beans the che ba mau is definitely worth trying.