Anh Hong

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Anh_hongI’m happy to once again place Anh Hong on the recommended side of Vietnamese restaurants. Several years ago, it was at the top; I even awarded it my Critic’s Foodie for best Vietnamese.

But then something happened. A visit a couple of years ago found the place worn and grungy, the service even grungier (as in the type of music that was played, apparently for the enjoyment of the staff, not the guests) and the food less than average. I removed it from the list of restaurants I recommend, and because I had touted it previously, I even included it in my 2011 edition of Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide, one of the few negative entries in a paperback mainly devoted to the area’s best.

The 2012 edition of the guide will again place Anh Hong on the favorable list.

On a recent lunch visit, I found the small dining room bright and clean. Not spiffy, but certainly more pleasant than the previous foray. My server was more pleasant, too, and even volunteered some menu guidance to my guest who was trying to decide what to have

Anh_hong_rollsWe started with an order of fall rolls, the seasonal item less well known than the usual spring and summer rolls. This was an unfried version with rice noodles, lettuce and bits of pork inside a translucent wrapper. It was big and fat and had a cool taste that was enhanced by the thick peanut sauce.

For my entree I chose a rice noodle bowl that had barbecue pork and chunks of fried spring rolls in a large bowl with fresh basil, bean sprouts and other accoutrements. I drizzled on the sweet vinaigrette then gave a few squirts of fish sauce and hot pepper juice. My guest chose a similar dish, though it contained shrimp. It was all quite satisfying.

Prominently situated on the southwest corner of Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive, Anh Hong is hard to miss. But parking nearby may confuse some people. You should know that there is a parking lot directly behind the restaurant. (Don’t park in the Photo and Hobby store’s lot; they will tow you.)

It’s nice to have Anh Hong back on the plus side. Vietnamese restaurants are one of the joys of the Mills50 district. It’s good to have another that I can recommend without hesitation.

Anh Hong is at 1124 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The restaurant does not have a website. The phone number is 407-999-2656.

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