There’s that saying “nothing good happens after midnight”. The restaurant version of that would be ‘nothing good comes out the kitchen before closing’.

You might get reheated pasta, you might get a truncated menu. Anything can happen. But when we found Com tam Ninh-Kieu on Yelp Saturday night at 7:30pm—an hour before close—we made the bet because of its 4 star rating.

 

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It’s the kind of place you’d only otherwise find if you’re lucky enough to stumble across it or get a good WOM (word of mouth) recommendation. Every storefront on Jerome Ave is competing for your attention. But this Vietnamese restaurant also sits at the base of an apartment building—a testament to its fixture as an authentic, neighborhood Asian eatery for the past 6 years.

Ordering isn’t easy. The staff wasn’t very fluent in English and we had trouble understanding the menu, so I pulled up the Yelp photos. The waitress seemed unaware of the restaurants raves online, but impressed by the gallery while she swiped through the phone.

Once ordering was out of the way, she brought complimentary iced green tea to the table, set it down on the table without a word, and walked away.

 

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The beef pho was great. A light broth with a generous amount of beef tenderloin, herbs, and flat rice noodles. It was just what the weekend’s low temps called for. But the huge flavor in the beef served with (broken) rice was is a good choice for something more straightforward.

 

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A lot of people order the fresh (cold) shrimp springs rolls so I’d tacked that onto my order as well. It came out after our main dishes, unfortunately. Our table wasn’t a big fan of the cold noodles, shrimp, and lettuce wrapped in rice paper, served with a sweet peanut sauce, but it’s still worth a try if you’ve never had it.

We were there till close, but the staff was good about not ushering us out. We did that ourselves once the gates started to come down, simultaneously making plans for the next visit.

 

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