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New Asia Restaurant - Excellent Vietnamese in Lincoln Square

New Asia Restaurant - Excellent Vietnamese in Lincoln Square
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  • New Asia Restaurant - Excellent Vietnamese in Lincoln Square

    Post #1 - April 5th, 2014, 6:35 pm
    Post #1 - April 5th, 2014, 6:35 pm Post #1 - April 5th, 2014, 6:35 pm
    After reading Mike Sula’s recent reader article on LD Pho in Lincoln Square (a solidly above average bowl of pho), I was flooded with guilt because I know that though there are a half dozen places to get pho on the northwest side, I never ventured out to explore those options. The reason is obvious: it’s just so easy to make the jaunt over to Nha Hang for an unbeatable bowl. But I’m glad that the article inspired me to correct the error of my ways.

    Luckily for me, the first place I tried, New Asia Restaurant, blew me out of the water. A caveat: I’ve only been there once, so by no means is this an exhaustive vetting. However, the 3 dishes we tried were very promising, and my intuition tells me that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The menu, though not as extensive as other encyclopedic Vietnamese menus, had so much that piqued my interest: “grounded bear” and “grounded alagader” (at $25 each), ox tail pho, salted fish fried rice, fish tripe and crab meat soup, snail with coconut or lemongrass, and the list goes on.

    We ordered a Pho Dac Biet, with sliced beef, eye of round, soft tendon, meatballs; Canh Ga Cay, spicy fried wings (what we observed on everyone else’s tables); and De Xao Lan, goat meat stir fried.

    The pho was excellent, with a clear but thick and rich meaty broth. The broth was subtle with the spices, and had a prominent black and white pepper scent. That is not to say the other classic pho spices were missing; they were there in harmony. I loved this spicing approach, which to me reflects the opposite of those places that hide a weak stock behind a barrage of spices. This was a meat focused stock and the dominant pepper notes complemented that nicely.

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    The wings were the standard Vietnamese style fried wings, piping hot and crispy exterior and moist inside. Though we ordered the “hot,” they were barely spicy, but whatever … there was chili oil on the table. I’d order them anytime when in need of crispy fried wings.

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    The goat stir fry was similar in flavor profile and ingredients to the Lau De hot pot at Nha Hang, but with a thicker sauce. The tofu skin pieces were fried crispy instead of soft. The spices also matched that of the hot pot, rich and deep with hints of anise. This was my personal favorite of the meal, one which I'll be ordering many times, I'm sure.

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    New Asia recently moved to their current location from down the street, and I believe they used to be where LD Pho now is located. Perhaps there is a story behind that. The place is brand spanking new, open for only 2 weeks. It appears they put a decent amount of money and effort into making the setting nice and comfortable, with all the furnishings a step above the quality you’d expect in a typical Vietnamese pho joint. Even the giant ceramic bowl the pho is served in was a nice upgrade from the typical plastic type. The staff was charming, friendly, and seemed to enjoy entertaining my 100 questions. Other than us, the clientele was 100% Vietnamese. I felt right at home sitting for a half hour after the meal chatting and sipping our drinks.

    New Asia Restaurant
    2705 W Lawrence Avenue
    (773) 728-2406

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    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #2 - April 12th, 2014, 10:50 am
    Post #2 - April 12th, 2014, 10:50 am Post #2 - April 12th, 2014, 10:50 am
    I very much enjoyed a lunch here recently with laikom. The overall impression I got from the food could be described as clean and nuanced. These are virtues of most Vietnamese cuisine, but the stuff at New Asia is especially fresh and simple.

    We had to over-order once we saw a beautiful herb-laden mound of Goi Ga emerge from the kitchen. This was probably my favorite rendition I've had of the dish and its most striking feature was that it contained at least one entire chicken, skin and bones intact, hacked into chomp-able pieces. The flavor of the meat was the star of the show and amazing how with all the nasty bits, it had such a clean flavor. It was lightly dressed but came with a dipper of nuoc cham that was refreshingly under-sweetened.

    A stir fried dish of Beef with pickled mustard greens was steely in its simplicity and perhaps my favorite dish. The beef was definitely a notch higher quality than most rubbery, assembly- line Asian restaurant default proteins, with a discernible beefiness. Sauteed with crunchy tart greens and a little onion, that was it.

    I wasn't entirely in the mood for fried fish, but a dish of Salt and Pepper Smelts wear, again, dead simple and fried to a uniform crispiness, batter melding with the interior of the fish.

    Oxtail Pho like laikom's description of his pho above was resolute in its rich meatiness, a full bodied broth with little adornment. We hardly added any garnish, its effect was so pure. It was a huge bowl and in some ways, the noodles proved to be a distraction. The abundant nuggets of tail, themselves, were cooked just a shade past chewy, which was a good thing, tender enough, yet still gnaw-able. Great stuff.

    Its really cool to sample the craft of a cook with such a defined sensibility. It won't replace my love for Nha Hang Viet Nam, but this clean and straightforward approach makes a nice compliment to NHVN's bolder, more funked up style. Worth noting is that prices here are a notch higher than most hole-in-the-wall Asian places, but the higher quality ingredients reflect the cost as do the family-sized potions.
  • Post #3 - April 13th, 2014, 7:18 pm
    Post #3 - April 13th, 2014, 7:18 pm Post #3 - April 13th, 2014, 7:18 pm
    I agree on all accounts above. The ox tail pho, goi ga, beef with mustard were all great. The goi ga has a lot of the laksa leaves in it which I love. The beef with mustard green did have a better quality meat than expected, and there was a lot going on with the spicing, different than most other versions where it's mostly just the pickle flavor. There were too many noodles in the pho. On the 2nd or 3rd try I actually asked for them on the side, but either there was a communication error or they wouldn't allow that as an option. Maybe next time I'll try to ask for half the amount of noodles.

    On a 3rd and 4th visit I tried a few new dishes. Nothing seems to pack on the heat as other Vietnamese places do, but surprisingly it doesn't bother me. Nothing seems off balance, and I enjoy the change of style. The Rabbit stir fry had a great sauce, and the Rabbit chunks were... rabbit, so, boney and a task to eat, but the flavor the texture was just right. The Bun Bo Hue was rich and satisfying but not nearly as spicy as the dish usually is. The Lau De (goat hot pot) was great, though surprisingly lacking the tofu skins. The broth was again rich and hearty, and not too spicy. In the soup were chunks of bone in skin on goat, tofu cubes and taro root, and was served with noodles and chrysanthemum leaves on the side.

    Here are some more pics:

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    Goi Ga

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    Lau De (goat hot pot)

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    Beef with pickled Mustard Greens

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    Ox Tail Pho
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #4 - April 13th, 2014, 8:57 pm
    Post #4 - April 13th, 2014, 8:57 pm Post #4 - April 13th, 2014, 8:57 pm
    I don't by any means intend to question your expertise and taste, Jefe, but I must confess, I don't understand what you mean by "clean and nuanced". Does "clean" mean something like clearly distinct flavors? As for synonyms for "nuanced," I'm at a loss. I don't mean to sound like a brat; I really would like to understand better. Can you explain a little more of what you mean? Thanks very much.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #5 - April 13th, 2014, 9:10 pm
    Post #5 - April 13th, 2014, 9:10 pm Post #5 - April 13th, 2014, 9:10 pm
    I can't speak directly for Jefe, but speaking from a grammatical standpoint, some applicable synonyms for "nuanced" would be "refined", or "subtle". From a taste standpoint, I would think these adjectives fit. In line with my original post, none of the dishes are assaulting you with intense flavors, they are simpler combinations of light spicing, but refined in the sense that this simplicity "works" seems intentional.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #6 - April 14th, 2014, 8:23 am
    Post #6 - April 14th, 2014, 8:23 am Post #6 - April 14th, 2014, 8:23 am
    I live about a block away from the restaurant.

    I was hoping to get some pho to ease the rainy blues away.

    I walked in and they quoted me 1hr! Guess the word is out!
    We ended up not getting any, but I figured the data point reminder to plan a bit ahead could help some others.

    B
  • Post #7 - April 14th, 2014, 10:17 am
    Post #7 - April 14th, 2014, 10:17 am Post #7 - April 14th, 2014, 10:17 am
    Jefe wrote:We had to over-order once we saw a beautiful herb-laden mound of Goi Ga emerge from the kitchen

    I'm a sucker for Goi Ga, been a fan since reading a 2002 Cheap Eats by Monica Eng in the Tribune.

    I have tremendous respect for both Laikom and Jefe's palate so it was with high hopes and high expectations, as opposed to my usual high hopes, low expectations, I headed to a late dinner of goi ga at New Asia.

    Sunday 9:30pm place was packed, one smiling overworked server, one food runner and more than a few impatient appearing patrons. No worries on my part, I pulled up an iBook on my iPhone, sipped my tea and waited patiently, happily, for my "beautiful herb-laden mound of Goi Ga" to emerge from the kitchen.

    New Asia, Goi Ga

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    Visually stunning, a mountain of skin-on bone-in chicken intermixed with shredded chicken, cabbage, onion, herbs, peanuts and topped with a glorious mound of chicken livers and peanuts. I had to dab the anticipatory saliva from the corner of my mouth.

    I went right for the offal, dunk in the mild nuoc cham, light dredge of chili paste, short stop on my rice bowl, so I don't drip on my shirt and funky flavorful heaven. Repeat with skin-on bone-in bits, fan-F'n-tastic, I'm thinking Laikom you've done it again, then I hit the shredded meat. Whoa, complete halt, stop the presses, fade to black, dry dry dry, Sahara in summer has nothing on this chicken. Flavorless, impossible to chew, my hopes were crushed like an AMC Pacer at a demolition derby.

    Unfortunately New Asia's goi ga was dominated by impossibly chewy shredded bird, so much so I started day dreaming of the silky textured poached chicken at Snack Planet. Crestfallen I picked scant remaining bits of bone-in and offaly goodness from the dish and had the rest packed up to go. Truthfully, I have little intention of eating the rest, but it would have been rude to leave it there.

    Yes, it was late, yes, pretty much everyone else in the place was happily slurping pho or spooning goat stew and by all accounts (Laikon/Jefe) this was an anomaly. I'll be back, and soon, but a little more wary, expectations firmly in check.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #8 - April 14th, 2014, 11:27 am
    Post #8 - April 14th, 2014, 11:27 am Post #8 - April 14th, 2014, 11:27 am
    This place sounds strikingly similar to the recently opened King Pho in Edgebrook; second tier Vietnamese that will do in a pinch and great to have in the neighborhood for when there's no time or inclination to drive to one of the top tier places.

    King Pho
    5414 W Devon Ave
    Chicago, IL 60646
    (773) 312-3995
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #9 - April 14th, 2014, 11:46 am
    Post #9 - April 14th, 2014, 11:46 am Post #9 - April 14th, 2014, 11:46 am
    stevez wrote:This place sounds strikingly similar to the recently opened King Pho in Edgebrook; second tier Vietnamese that will do in a pinch and great to have in the neighborhood for when there's no time or inclination to drive to one of the top tier places.

    King Pho
    5414 W Devon Ave
    Chicago, IL 60646
    (773) 312-3995


    Kind of hard to say that if you haven't actually eaten there yet, no?
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #10 - April 14th, 2014, 11:47 am
    Post #10 - April 14th, 2014, 11:47 am Post #10 - April 14th, 2014, 11:47 am
    Pho King timely intel, Steve! Many thanks.
  • Post #11 - April 14th, 2014, 12:15 pm
    Post #11 - April 14th, 2014, 12:15 pm Post #11 - April 14th, 2014, 12:15 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:
    stevez wrote:This place sounds strikingly similar to the recently opened King Pho in Edgebrook; second tier Vietnamese that will do in a pinch and great to have in the neighborhood for when there's no time or inclination to drive to one of the top tier places.

    King Pho
    5414 W Devon Ave
    Chicago, IL 60646
    (773) 312-3995


    Kind of hard to say that if you haven't actually eaten there yet, no?


    All I said was that it sounds strikingly familiar, based on the descriptions from G Wiv & laikom and my own experience at King Pho. So no. Not hard to say at all. I'll be trying New Asia Restaurant soon and I'll be able to compare the food directly, but the descriptions and photos sound and look very similar.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #12 - April 14th, 2014, 5:00 pm
    Post #12 - April 14th, 2014, 5:00 pm Post #12 - April 14th, 2014, 5:00 pm
    Gary, sad to hear about the chicken. On the 3 times I have had it so far, the chicken has definitely been a on the chewier side, It was not at all melt in your mouth silky, and that is one of the reasons I loved it, it was unique. However, it was not at all dry. Chewy but moist is how I would describe it. Likely you're right and it was an off night, but I wouldn't count out the possibility that you simply don't like the preparation. I will have to eat it with you soon and I'll take the leftovers home if you still don't like it.

    Steve, in your original post it sounded like the only similarity was that it was a lesser quality restaurant, not that the dishes seemed similar. Since you had not tasted the food, I did feel like a bit of a groundless insult. I'm guessing it was a misinterpretation of what you actually meant. I'm not even speculating as to whether it is going to be widely considered a top tier place, time will sort that out. It is my 2nd favorite Vietnamese place in Chicago which makes it 1 of only 2 top-tier Vietnamese restaurants in my book, so far. I hope to find more!
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #13 - April 15th, 2014, 9:58 am
    Post #13 - April 15th, 2014, 9:58 am Post #13 - April 15th, 2014, 9:58 am
    laikom wrote:Steve, in your original post it sounded like the only similarity was that it was a lesser quality restaurant, not that the dishes seemed similar. Since you had not tasted the food, I did feel like a bit of a groundless insult. I'm guessing it was a misinterpretation of what you actually meant.


    That's what I get for posting in a hurry without fully developing my thoughts. Yes, I'd say that was a misinterpretation of what I meant to say and said so poorly in the first place. What I was getting at is this:

    Like Thai food before it, Vietnamese food is becoming more and more mainstream. Where once you had to go to Argyle if you wanted a bowl of Pho, etc., now places like New Asia Restaurant and King Pho are popping up in other neighborhoods. While they tend to not deliver the full-on funk and spice of some of our better loved places on Argyle, they are putting out respectable food cooked with love and finesse and are good alternatives for when a trip to Argyle isn't in the cards.

    In much the same way that Elephant Thai puts out great, satisfying Thai food in its neighborhood, you'll never get the wild ride of spice and funk you might experience at places like Rainbow or Aroy. That's OK with me. The food is great in it's own right, but it's more like "everyday" food.

    I think my use of the term 2nd tier was misplaced, because that's not what I meant. The food at these neighborhood places that are popping up isn't 2nd tier, it's good food (at least in the case of the two places that have been mentioned in this thread). It's just not as complex as the places on Argyle. The reasons for this are up for debate. It could be the skill level of the chef (often a former home cook with no restaurant experience), or it could be a concession to the tastes of the neighborhood that they serve or it could even be a conscious choice of cooking style.

    Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that New Asia Restaurant wasn't a worthy addition to the dining scene. Not at all. In fact, I'm sure I'll be eating there before the week is out. I'm a sucker for a good Goi Ga.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #14 - April 15th, 2014, 12:47 pm
    Post #14 - April 15th, 2014, 12:47 pm Post #14 - April 15th, 2014, 12:47 pm
    Well put, Stever. And because I have had a soft spot in my heart for Vietnamese cuisine ever since my first meals at Mekong Restaurant back in the mid-'80's (now housing Tank Noodle), I have been trying to make this point about some of the Vietnamese restaurants that have cropped up in near suburbia like Dung Gia across the street from the Des Plaines train station.

    Don't know whether these versions of banh xeo or pho are somewhat-Americanized or non-funkified with less usage of the nuoc mam (fish sauce). And I don't really know whether it's a conscious effort on the owners' parts to make it fit the domestic palate to bring in more business. In our foodie world, of course, we would love to have it as authentic as possible. But a place like Dung Gia does very well, uses fresh ingredients & for the most part is very true to the cuisine. But I suppose it is possible that the funk has been dialed down in some of these places.

    I am just happy as heck to see so many more choices overall in the last 10 years or so.
  • Post #15 - April 15th, 2014, 3:35 pm
    Post #15 - April 15th, 2014, 3:35 pm Post #15 - April 15th, 2014, 3:35 pm
    I definitely understand where you are both coming from, and a lot of the time that logic may work, but I beg of everyone, can this please let this be the last bits of speculation before having actually been to this restaurant? I would hate to drag more of this conversation into this thread cluttering it up.

    Not all food in Vietnam is funky and spicy, and New Asia is in no way, not in the tiniest bit an Americanized version of Vietnamese food. I only continue the conversation because I think the speculation is even more misleading now than it was originally, and could be misleading to the thousands of people who will inevitably read this thread. On the above mentioned night when it was packed with an hour long wait, G Wiv relayed to me that he was the only non-Vietnamese person in the place or waiting for a table, which is in line with my experiences there. This place is not tamed-down or mainstream sell-out Vietnamese (as good as that could be), it's just different than what we are used to seeing in Chicago, let's celebrate that.
    Last edited by laikom on February 8th, 2015, 4:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #16 - April 15th, 2014, 4:08 pm
    Post #16 - April 15th, 2014, 4:08 pm Post #16 - April 15th, 2014, 4:08 pm
    I can't wait to check it out.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #17 - April 15th, 2014, 6:44 pm
    Post #17 - April 15th, 2014, 6:44 pm Post #17 - April 15th, 2014, 6:44 pm
    I was intrigued by this thread, and in spite of being a very loyal, addicted, and always satisfied weekly customer at Vietnam on Argyle, since I thought I was catching a cold this morning and had an urgent therapeutic need of a good bowl of Pho Ga, I decided to try New Asia. What a mistake. The place, at 2:15 PM, was filled to capacity, and 2 families with a total of about 8 very rowdy and kids, were occupying 3 tables and exchanged very loud pieces of conversation and laughing from one table to the other.

    I finally managed to attract the attention of the only, overwhelmed but very pleasant waitress, and ordered the small Pho ($7.00 for a pretty large bowl) with shredded chicken, instead of the other choice made of bone-in chicken, and hot tea. It took them 25 minutes, when most tables were already cleared, to bring me the wrong Pho with bone-in chicken, and a very bad tea in a large greasy plastic glass. All the other tables were served tea in the traditional white porcelain tea-pot and small cups. The pieces of chicken were tough and chewy, with large portions of skin on, and were cut in a way that you could not easily catch them in the broth. The very few herbs were wilted, some of them turning black. The traditional lime was replaced by wedges of lemon full of seeds, and there were no slices of chili peppers. The broth was just O.K. not very warm, and very shy on aromatic qualities.

    So I left the restaurant not too convinced that I was eager to give them another chance, even though you cannot objectively judge a Vietnamese restaurant exclusively on a chicken pho. I am sure that all the main dishes that Laikom, Steve, Gary and others tried and mostly raved about must have been better prepared and plated, than this pathetic pho.
  • Post #18 - April 17th, 2014, 1:57 pm
    Post #18 - April 17th, 2014, 1:57 pm Post #18 - April 17th, 2014, 1:57 pm
    Just finished up lunch with Stevez. The Goi Ga chicken was as chewy as ever :wink:, and I still love it. It's probably not for everyone, though there are enough pieces of the not chewy bone in chicken for you to enjoy otherwise. The pho (dac biet) was different this time, definitely more chicken broth (or all chicken broth) than it was the first time. Maybe they ran out of stock, or maybe I got used to the oxtail version and forgot what the original tasted like. Though chicken based, it was still really rich and fatty and hearty. Beef with mustard greens was delicious, though with significantly less meat than the first order. I'm sensing possible consistency issues. Maybe they are overwhelmed due to the move and boom in popularity, maybe they ran out of beef stock... Either way, I still really enjoyed this meal. Solid 1.5 tier Vietnamese.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #19 - April 17th, 2014, 2:13 pm
    Post #19 - April 17th, 2014, 2:13 pm Post #19 - April 17th, 2014, 2:13 pm
    laikom wrote:The Goi Ga chicken was as chewy as ever


    The chewy chicken is likely due to the chicken being ga di bo, which literally translates to "walking chicken." These free-range chickens generally have more flavor from walking around a lot at the expense of being leaner and chewier. Most Vietnamese prefer ga di bo over commodity chickens.
  • Post #20 - April 17th, 2014, 5:28 pm
    Post #20 - April 17th, 2014, 5:28 pm Post #20 - April 17th, 2014, 5:28 pm
    laikom wrote:Just finished up lunch with Stevez. The Goi Ga chicken was as chewy as ever :wink:, and I still love it. It's probably not for everyone, though there are enough pieces of the not chewy bone in chicken for you to enjoy otherwise. The pho (dac biet) was different this time, definitely more chicken broth (or all chicken broth) than it was the first time. Maybe they ran out of stock, or maybe I got used to the oxtail version and forgot what the original tasted like. Though chicken based, it was still really rich and fatty and hearty. Beef with mustard greens was delicious, though with significantly less meat than the first order. I'm sensing possible consistency issues. Maybe they are overwhelmed due to the move and boom in popularity, maybe they ran out of beef stock... Either way, I still really enjoyed this meal. Solid 1.5 tier Vietnamese.


    Yes. I enjoyed my lunch, and there's more of the menu to explore.

    New Asia Restaurant
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    New Asia Restaurant Goi Ga
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    This version didn't seem to be as packed with bone on chicken as what G Wiv pictured upthread, but I liked it. It's a very unique Goi Ga presentation; very lightly dressed with a cup of dressing served on the side and, of course, the oft mentioned chewy chicken, which I actually thought brought some extra textural interest to the dish.

    New Asia Restaurant Pho Dac Biet
    Image

    A very mild chicken broth which would have made my Bubby proud. It was silky with schmaltz and very chicken forward. Not much Vietnamese spicing or beef involved, though. Nice fresh herbs accompany, and the assortment of meats was good as well. It wasn't the most exquisite bowl of Pho I've ever had, but it was a very satisfying bowl of soup. Next time, I'll try the oxtail version.

    New Asia Restaurant Beef with Pickled Mustard Greens
    Image

    This might have been my favorite dish of the day. The beef is grilled (or maybe stewed?) simply with a light marinade. In this case, it kind of reminded me of bulgogi. The acidic punch of the greens was a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the beef.

    Honorable mention goes to their excellent chili oil!

    I'll certainly be back to work through more of the menu. While the Pho seems a little better at King Pho, the menu at New Asia is much broader. I'm not sure I'd drive across town for either of those two restaurants, but since they're both more or less in my neighborhood, let the battle of the northwest side Vietnamese places begin!
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #21 - April 25th, 2014, 9:25 am
    Post #21 - April 25th, 2014, 9:25 am Post #21 - April 25th, 2014, 9:25 am
    I've posted a review of King Pho here.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #22 - May 5th, 2014, 3:49 pm
    Post #22 - May 5th, 2014, 3:49 pm Post #22 - May 5th, 2014, 3:49 pm
    stevez wrote:
    New Asia Restaurant Goi Ga
    Image



    I recently enjoyed a Light Lunch with Laikom™ at New Asia, and that Goi Ga really stole the show. I thought it was a unique and wonderful rendition of the dish, probably the best I've ever had. The bird reminded me of Hainanese chicken, just gently boiled with some aromatics and randomly hacked into its constituent bony bits. It takes a bit of work to eat, no doubt, but I'd describe it as silky rather than chewy, and the light dressing, crunchy cabbage, and fresh herbs let the core chicken flavor shine through nicely. Reading Gwiv's and stevez's reports, I wonder if perhaps they have some consistency issues. I hope to head back soon to investigate further.

    We also ordered some unremarkable spring rolls and a tasty, if non-traditional, bowl of pho. As stevez mentioned, the broth for the beef pho at New Asia is unusually chickeney and light on the standard pho spices. It wasn't what I expect from pho, but it was a very very good chicken broth and a nice bowl of soup. Stick a matzo ball in that mfer and Bob's your uncle.

    --Rich
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #23 - May 7th, 2014, 1:14 am
    Post #23 - May 7th, 2014, 1:14 am Post #23 - May 7th, 2014, 1:14 am
    New Asia is only becoming more exciting with every visit, and is quickly becoming my favorite place within walking distance from home.

    They are the most friendly staff I have come across since Rainbow or Nha Hang. They are so adorably clueless about american culture that you couldn’t be “whited” if you tried. We walked in with a 6 pack of beer and were immediately greeted with a bowl of peanuts and bottle opener before we even got our menus. We were then asked in broken english if we wanted cups with ice. It took me a minute, but I realized that she assumed we wanted ice with our beers. We answered with an enthusiastic yes! In Viet Nam ice with beer is more common than without.

    Image
    Our tribute to bia hoi: Bell's Oberon served over ice. Peanuts on the side.

    On each visit we have also been greeted with a complimentary iced tea, which was also common throughout Viet Nam, but I’ve never seen in the US. It is such a uniquely flavored tea, almondy, smooth and almost milky. It is called Sâm Dứa, which google translated to cucumber pineapple. I have no clue if that is accurate, but whatever the case, it’s delicious, and I hope someone here can enlighten me about this tea.

    Image
    Sâm Dứa tea. Can someone please tell me what this is?

    Today we ordered a new to me dish which is likely to become an obsession: the “simmered pork ribs”. It is made of bite size pieces of pork rib, moist and fall off the bone tender. I think they were first fried, then stirred in a sauce with chinese 5 spice. The meat was not overly saucy at all and had a light dusting of spice. The texture reminded me of the bone in lamb with cumin at homestyle taste, only tossed into sauce. As simple as it was, it’s hard to make it sound exciting. Needless to say, I really I loved this dish a whole LOT.

    Image
    Simmered pork ribs.

    The beef with mustard greens was again a hit, as always. Great quality beef, lots of sweet caramelized onions to balance the sour and salt. Tons of “breath of the wok”. A simply perfect rendition.

    The Goi Ga has been very consistent, and very delicious every time. I'm still tending to think there is no consistency issue, you will either like it or not. I just love that they use the entire bird in the salad, you will pick out bits of liver, gizzard, heart, and neck. I knew it wasn't your average grocery store chicken and wondered if it was from the live poultry place next door. Today I confirmed that to be the case. They also sell rabbit there, so my guess is that they get the rabbit from next door as well. Now I wonder where the place next door gets the chicken, and wonder if it is in fact the free range “walking chicken”. I do believe I read somewhere that is is free range, but I can't be sure. Either way it is delicious. I’m glad to know it is so fresh especially considering all of the organ meats in there. The livers are so fresh that they are hardly even “livery”, but creamy fatty and mild. I especially love the crunch and pungency of the raw onions in conjunction with the chicken offal and funky Vietnamese coriander and fish sauce.

    Image
    Goi Ga

    Image
    Goi Ga w/ offal. Perfect with peanuts and some crisp fresh onion.

    I also wanted to add that the chili oil is insanely good, perhaps the best I have can remember. It is almost a mix between chili sauce and oil, maybe being made of fresh or partially dried peppers. It has such a fresh and herbaceous quality, all coming from a chili alone. This is one of many moments at New Asia that remind me how much this place really pays attention to quality of ingredients. From sourcing locally raised live chickens to the simple things like this chili oil, there is clearly someone behind the operation here who really knows and loves their craft.

    Image
    Insanely good chili oil.

    I hate to compare restaurants, but some people have asked how this place compares to Nha Hang. Most importantly, I will say that it is a very different style of restaurant, and each is excellent and each is very authentic. Vietnam doesn't have one style of food, and there doesn't need to be one best restaurant in Chicago. A few dishes at New Asia are certainly better than the same at Nha Hang (goi ga, lau de, beef with sour mustard). I love Nha Hang with all my heart (they have the best pho and bun mam I will probably ever eat, among many other). But when it comes down to it, there is no reason to pick one over the other. Each has standout dishes, and each remains outstanding top-tier Vietnamese.

    Get to New Asia!
    Last edited by laikom on May 7th, 2014, 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #24 - May 7th, 2014, 1:39 am
    Post #24 - May 7th, 2014, 1:39 am Post #24 - May 7th, 2014, 1:39 am
    RAB wrote:Laikom™

    LOL

    RAB wrote:The bird reminded me of Hainanese chicken, just gently boiled with some aromatics and randomly hacked into its constituent bony bits.

    I just noticed you said this, which makes me really want to order the: Ga Hap Gung - "(Half Chicken) steamed chicken with ginger."
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #25 - May 7th, 2014, 10:02 am
    Post #25 - May 7th, 2014, 10:02 am Post #25 - May 7th, 2014, 10:02 am
    laikom wrote: We were then asked in broken english if we wanted cups with ice. It took me a minute, but I realized that she assumed we wanted ice with our beers. We answered with an enthusiastic yes! In Viet Nam ice with beer is more common than without.


    I found this to be true in Taiwan also as smaller places lacked big refrigerators for beer!

    laikom wrote: I knew it wasn't your average grocery store chicken and wondered if it was from the live poultry place next door. Today I confirmed that to be the case. They also sell rabbit there, so my guess is that they get the rabbit from next door as well. Now I wonder where the place next door gets the chicken, and wonder if it is in fact the free range “walking chicken”. I do believe I read somewhere that is is free range, but I can't be sure. Either way it is delicious. I’m glad to know it is so fresh especially considering all of the organ meats in there. The livers are so fresh that they are hardly even “livery”, but creamy fatty and mild. I especially love the crunch and pungency of the raw onions in conjunction with the chicken offal and funky Vietnamese coriander and fish sauce.


    As for the rabbit being fresh from next door, that makes sense, I really liked both the flavor and the sauce when we had lunch there. It was a pain to eat with all the small bones, but really worth sucking them dry. To me their soups are good, but it's the dishes like the rabbit that I love. I'll have to give the Goi Ga a shot.
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #26 - May 7th, 2014, 11:20 am
    Post #26 - May 7th, 2014, 11:20 am Post #26 - May 7th, 2014, 11:20 am
    I was with laikom at dinner last night and truly agree with everything he said. The service was of the quality you'd receive at a restaurant an order of magnitude more expensive. Every need was anticipated: as laikom stated, they brought out peanuts and bottle openers before we sat down because they saw we had beer. When laikom inquired about what tea they use they told us and then brought out packets for each of us to have.

    As far as the food this is really some top notch Vietnamese food. Everything was extremely fresh and delicious. I agree that, while tempting, it's difficult to make comparisons between here and Nha Hang. For example, the beef with pickled mustard greens are almost two completely different dishes at the two restaurants. Here they are sweet and caramelized and balanced with really good quality beef and a lot of wok hay. At Nha Hang there is more sourness and crunchy texture. They are very different and I love them both.

    I found both the ribs and the beef to have almost Chinese flavors to them from the way they were stewed and fried. I don't mean this in a bad way; it is very unique and another way that makes them different from other Vietnamese restaurants. I definitely look forward to exploring more of the menu.
  • Post #27 - May 8th, 2014, 11:16 am
    Post #27 - May 8th, 2014, 11:16 am Post #27 - May 8th, 2014, 11:16 am
    mbh wrote:I found this to be true in Taiwan also as smaller places lacked big refrigerators for beer!
    I enjoyed many things in Taiwan, but drinking room-temperature beer in steaming hot weather ... let's just say it takes some getting used to. It was only because it was offered to us with such enthusiasm and hospitality by old college classmates that I was able to drink it at all. I do not recall drinking anything with ice cubes in Taiwan.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #28 - May 8th, 2014, 6:21 pm
    Post #28 - May 8th, 2014, 6:21 pm Post #28 - May 8th, 2014, 6:21 pm
    Katie wrote:
    mbh wrote:I found this to be true in Taiwan also as smaller places lacked big refrigerators for beer!
    I enjoyed many things in Taiwan, but drinking room-temperature beer in steaming hot weather ... let's just say it takes some getting used to. It was only because it was offered to us with such enthusiasm and hospitality by old college classmates that I was able to drink it at all. I do not recall drinking anything with ice cubes in Taiwan.


    Well, things may have changed, I was there for 2 weeks in March and if our beer was not served chilled, they always offered us ice with it. My friend Hsing Mei, who's family we were visiting, is the person who told me to expect ice in my beer and not just with her family, but when we stopped while out. Most 7-11's had their beer in refrigerators also.
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #29 - May 10th, 2014, 12:06 am
    Post #29 - May 10th, 2014, 12:06 am Post #29 - May 10th, 2014, 12:06 am
    laikom wrote:Image
    Sâm Dứa tea. Can someone please tell me what this is?


    Ginseng-coconut tea.
  • Post #30 - May 29th, 2014, 1:45 am
    Post #30 - May 29th, 2014, 1:45 am Post #30 - May 29th, 2014, 1:45 am
    Like everyone else in this thread, I shared a dinner with Laikom and a few others Wednesday night.

    Laikom did the ordering for the table, so apologies for not knowing a few names of dishes.

    Image
    Image
    Image

    Goi Ga chicken salad
    Image

    Ga Hap Gung steamed chicken with ginger
    Image
    Chicken, livers, and egg, though the jury is still out on the exact story there. Hopefully Laikom can explain this a bit better...

    beef with pickled mustard greens
    Image

    Suon Heo Kho simmered pork ribs
    Image

    Hu Tieu Ap Chao Dac Biet special saute noodle
    Image

    Tho Xao Lan & Ro Ti rabbit stir-fried
    Image

    Rau Muong Xao Chao stir fried tong choy
    Image

    Canh Ga Chien Gion fried crispy chicken wings
    Image

    Pho Ga chicken rice noodle
    Image
    Image

    With the exception of the chicken/liver/egg dish which had no bold flavor to it, everything was great. For the 10 of us, the price point ended up being 16 dollars per person including tip. Not too shabby.
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