Maybe it’s just me, but when I see a place called P’s VietMí Café I have questions. First, who or what is P? And what is VietMí? The café part I was able to figure out on my own.
But the other two questions remain a mystery. A young man who answered the phone at the south Orlando restaurant, which opened earlier this year, seemed perplexed that I would even ask such questions, as though no one had ever inquired before. P? It’s just the name of the restaurant. Nope, not someone’s initial; it’s just P’s.
As for my other Q, it’s called VietMí because it’s a Vietnamese restaurant. I could almost here the silent “duh!” in his response.
But it isn’t a Vietnamese restaurant. Not entirely. Not exclusively. There are other Asian (Chinese, Korean) influences on the decidedly intriguing menu with a couple of Mexican and American influences thrown in as well. And while it might seem like it would be impossible to have a Vietnamese restaurant and not offer pho, there is no pho, which is just fine with me.
And while there are a few operational quibbles about the place – phone skills among them – I have to say that I rather enjoyed my food from P’s.
My favorite among the dishes I sampled was the kimchi fried rice, a large serving of well-seasoned rice – nice and moist for easy chopsticking – tossed with pickled cabbage and carrots and a few scallions. I also added steak, which was good, though I don’t think what was there warranted the $2.50 upcharge. And unfortunately the fried egg promised on the menu was missing from my order.
The vermicelli noodle bowl was a more traditional Vietnamese offering with thin rice noodles topped with slices of grilled chicken (other meats are available) and served with fish sauce and chili paste. A sprinkling of crushed peanuts topped the dish, which was also accompanied by shredded pickled vegetables, cucumbers and a bit of salad and a deep-fried spring roll.
I’ll admit to ordering the VietMí-rito simply for its uniqueness. It featured a tortilla rolled burrito style with white rice, meat – pork in my case – spicy jalapeños, pickled vegetables and fresh cilantro. The package was then rolled in panko crumbs and deep fried. It was one of the oddest things I’ve eaten in a long time, and I loved it, especially with the spicy mayo dipping sauce.
If you’re less adventurous, the fresh summer rolls, transluscent wrappers stiffed with noodles and pink shrimp, would be more to your liking. I appreciated the thick peanut sauce that came with the rolls.
P’s has an online ordering system but it is not without its challenges. It will not allow users to select a pickup time other than right now (15 minutes is the standard estimate, though my food took over 20). And it does not allow for prepayment – cash or credit cards must be proffered at the restaurant. So that means going inside the small, unadorned space, though there was plenty of room to distance.
But none of that was enough to mar an otherwise pleasant experience.