Let me just put this right out there at the beginning: Viet-Nomz might just be serving the best Vietnamese food in the area. Those of you who know me know that I don’t make such statements lightly.
I put off visiting this small, fast-casual restaurant for a long time because too many other businesses in this spot opened and closed too quickly. I didn’t hold up much hope for another newcomer, especially one with such a cutesy name. But after six months of seeing more cars in front than I ever did for any of the other restaurants that have occupied the University Boulevard space, I decided to pull over and try it myself.
The menu is less confusing than most Vietnamese restaurants, which often have more than 100 types of soup, rice and noodle dishes, though the actual options may even be more numerous here.
That’s because V-N’s concept is a variation of an assemblage operation. That is, you choose whether you want pho, rice or noodles, then the type of base. For example, if you want pho you choose a beef, chicken or vegetarian broth, then you choose two meats or vegetarian options to go in it. If you want you can add protein for a couple of bucks more.
But before you do that you should know that the two basic options will probably be enough. I selected beef pho with brisket and beef balls and I don’t think I’ve ever been served a pho with so much meat. The beef balls were especially big and dense. And the noodles were long and al dente, the broth flavorful.
And here’s a brilliant idea: Instead of serving the pho with a plate of the usual accouterments that you may or may not want to add to your soup, Viet-Nomz offers a help-yourself condiment bar so you can take only what you want. And they’re all nicely labeled, too, so you can tell the difference between the Vietnamese basil and the culantro.
And it wasn’t just the pho that was impressive. The Summer Rolls were so thick and full of not just noodles but also pork and shrimp that they were almost too big to put in my mouth. (I managed.) Fresh tasting and crisp.
A Cafe du Monde coffee can holds chopsticks and the soup ladles for the pho. If you want a fork you’ll find them in the drawer of the wooden sauce stand that sits on each table. (No, I don’t get the Cafe du Monde connection either.)
You may choose to sit at one of the small table or at the long communal table that dominates the space. That table likely helps add more seating to the small space, which is probably what tripped up some of the previous tenants and allows Viet-Nomz to do better business, though having excellent food helps, too.
The staff were all welcoming. The young woman who took my order helpfully explained the process, and the young man who delivered my food, along with a glass of ice and a stoppered bottle of tap water, was also pleasant.
The experience was an absolute joy from beginning to end. It’s a very smooth operation. So much so, in fact, that I wondered if the owners have franchising in mind. They should, because Viet-Nomz is definitely a winning concept.
Viet-Nomz is at 7581 University Blvd., Winter Park. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-636-6069.