Joyful that we had survived our Ukrainian food experience we ventured out on the recommendation of our concierge and a young Asian girl who was visiting with him. They provided a list of Vietnamese restaurants that they highly recommended.
Several people had suggested Pho and recommended the Cha Pa’s restaurant on 52nd St between 8th and 9th Avenues.
Many (most) Restaurants here have a rather gritty appearance, although they carry an A rating. We haven’t quite figured out why so many ignore the outward appearance of their storefront, but for us it is definitely a deterrent to trying new food and new places. We selected Cha Pa’s based upon the clean appearance of the restaurant.
We had to edge into this one, there was a major fear here, partially stemming from Tip’s time spent in Vietnam so many years ago, and our aversion to eating things that swim. Working up to this next challenge, we decided to make a “pre-visit” and met a lovely lady named Ly. She was most gracious and recommended “noodles” as a starter. We said we would return.
Two days following our Ukrainian victory we headed to Cha Pa’s. Ly was there and remembered our earlier visit. We had a seat at a small table and started looking over the menu. Ly was proud to tell us the menu had just changed this morning.
After giving us several minutes to study the menu, she returned to answer any questions. And we had plenty.
We started with Ginger tea and a Lotus Salad with chicken.
We had Ginger tea. Hot for Jerry, cold for Tip. It was bold and spicy with a strong aftertaste that tasted……gingerly! The aftertaste lessened as we drank. It was really tasty and refreshing.
We split the salad. It was full of good things, though not all recognizable. It was very fresh with only a light dressing. This could easily be adopted as a regular go-to.
The recommended Pho is similar to a noodle soup served in a huge bowl. We opted to try something that might be smaller. We selected two entrees and went with Vermicelli Chicken rice bowl and Lemongrass grilled chicken.
Turned out the rice bowl was the same size as the soup bowls, big enough to serve four. It was full of good things and topped with grilled dark meat chicken.
The Lemongrass chicken was served in a spicy sauce with steamed brown rice. We liked both entrees and would chose them again. Our favorite was the starter salad with chicken.
The restaurant was peaceful, quiet, with soft Vietnamese music playing. It was a fun evening for trying something new. We will be back, though next time we’ll split an entree.