Vung Tau is a family-run Vietnamese-style located in old Point Cadet. It is just a few blocks from Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino on Highway 90, so it is easy to get to, and there is plenty of parking.
There are a handful of good Vietnamese restaurants on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Vung Tau, although small, has newly joined their ranks, but based on my visit, it ranks near the top. The menu boasts more than a hundred offerings and has great diversity.
If you are new to Vietnamese cuisine, then there is no question that you should try pho ($8 to $12). Pho is the national dish of Vietnam and gets top marks as one of the best comfort foods from any country. It is made with a clear beef broth that takes hours to make from scratch, beef, rice noodles and a plethora of garnishes. Newbies often miss the importance of adding the garnishes in combinations that match their own tastes. Don’t just dump it in, but add a few slices of jalapeño, some bean sprouts, a squeeze of fresh lime, and hand-torn basil and cilantro. Give it a stir, add siracha if you want it hotter, taste and re-season to your liking. Pho can be eaten morning, noon and evening and is absolutely delicious.
If you want to adventure further afield, clay pot pork ($15) is one of the best treatments of pork I know of. Baked in a sweet sauce, in a clay pot that helps to caramelize the end results, and served with white steamed rice. This dish can be stunning.
You will note that the menu is broken down into basic categories, such as pork, seafood, fried rice, chicken, and vegetarian. It is a logical way to present a diverse menu and makes selection just what you want easier. There is also a Thai selection, although I did not get the chance to sample it, but good Thai food is about as good as it gets. Next trip.
My visit was at lunch time and I wanted to keep it simple. I ordered two spring rolls loaded with shrimp, pork, rice noodles, and vegetables (just $2 and there are four spring rolls to choose from). Spring rolls come with peanut sauce, and if you like it just a bit spicy, don’t forget a splash on the fiery garlicky, hot sauce that is on the table. The spring rolls were freshly made, crisp and perfect.
As a main course, I ordered a banh mi, or Vietnamese style sandwich (an amazing $4.50!). It came of a freshly toasted po-boy loaf and was loaded with grilled and tender pork, slices of cucumber, crunchy slices of carrot and daikon, and jalapeño. Always remember to add a splash of soy sauce. The salty contrast is just marvelous.
Vung Tau has that family charm that few places seem to get right. The food is killer good, the prices are reasonable and service is friendly and not overly rushed. Stop by for a quick bite, or bring the family and stay for a while. I think you are going to love this place.
What: Vung Tau
Where: 156 Oak Street, Biloxi
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.