March 18, 2018 | ° F

Indochine serves up classic Vietnamese cuisine ‘Pho’ you

Photo by Shirley Yu |

Indochine, located at 371 George St., offers Vietnamese options ranging from salads, egg rolls and spring rolls to traditional dishes like Pho Thai and Banh Mi.

There is nothing quite like street food. Though the city of New Brunswick seems outside the fascinating world of portable eats served out of roadside stalls, Indochine at 371 George St. has been serving up a variety of Vietnamese street food classics in a sit-down environment.

Indochine’s appetizers include several types of salads, egg rolls and spring rolls. The Goi Cuon Pork and Shrimp spring rolls encase rice noodles, lettuce, mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, pork and shrimp inside of a thin, translucent rice paper wrapper.

The nutty flavor of the accompanying peanut sauce complemented the spring rolls’ filling, though the pork and shrimp flavors seemed overwhelmed by vegetables. Even so, I recommend customers unfamiliar with Vietnamese spring rolls to try them at least once. The contrast with Chinese-style fried spring rolls is worth experiencing.

The must-have dish at Indochine is the pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup known for its complex and aromatic flavor profile. Indochine’s menu features 10 varieties of pho, including a vegetarian option.

Every week, the restaurant offers “2 Pho Tuesday.” On Tuesdays, a second bowl of pho is free with the purchase of an appetizer and two drinks. According to owner Sameh Fanous, the most popular dish on the menu is the Pho Dac Biet: beef broth with brisket, rare steak, tripe, tendon and rice noodles.

Each bowl of pho is served with a small plate of bean sprouts, chili pepper slices and a wedge of lime. Condiments available include hoisin sauce as well as Sriracha, the famous chili-garlic sauce often used to add a spicy kick to a bowl of pho. At Indochine, it’s clear that hot sauce is appreciated — a painting of a Sriracha bottle is even found hanging on the wall of the restaurant.

The Pho Tai at Indochine is simple: just beef broth with rice noodles and rare steak, yet the soup is immensely hearty and refreshing. The rice noodles are soft yet not overcooked, and the thin slices of steak are tender.

When it comes to pho — it’s all about the broth, and Indochine’s hits the spot. Exceptionally fragrant with a distinct depth of flavor, the broth possesses a fresh and herbal quality. A squeeze of lime further enhances the soup by adding a subtle tartness to each sip of broth.

Though Indochine is known for its pho, the restaurant also offers a variety of rice plates, noodle dishes and Banh Mi — a sandwich blending French and Vietnamese influences commonly sold on the street.

Indochine’s “traditional Banh Mi” piles pork roll, ham, pâté, pickled carrot, radish, jalapeño pepper, cilantro and mayonnaise between two pieces of crispy French baguette. The modest sandwich has a light, crisp flavor that highlights the vegetables, but could have used a few more slices of meat.

To end a meal at Indochine, I recommend the Ca Phe Phin Sua Nong, a cup of hot coffee prepared in the traditional Vietnamese fashion.

A small, metal coffee filter is set atop a glass containing a layer of sweetened condensed milk. As hot water drips through the filter, a thick layer of black coffee forms above the white cloud of condensed milk.

Stirring the suspension thoroughly results in a satisfying cup of coffee that’s bold and dark with a faint creaminess. The iced variant, Ca Phe Sua Da, is available as well.

With all the snow New Brunswick has been experiencing lately, a hot bowl of pho from Indochine might be the perfect way to warm up. But before ordering, a word of caution — “pho” is pronounced “fuh,” not “foe.”

By Matt Mikolay

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