Several iconic and frequently-visited establishments, such as Chipotle and Giant Eagle Market District, reside in the Kingsdale Shopping Center. UAHS students in particular visit these buildings so often that Kingsdale may be considered a second home to them. But even these students may grow weary of entering the same stores so routinely. When a new restaurant does open in the Shopping Center, people will undoubtedly be curious about the quality of the food it sells and how it compares to neighboring businesses. Tốt Vietnamnoms, located at 3108 Kingsdale Center, is a recent addition to the well-known area that promises dining from a less ubiquitous but still relevant genre of food: Vietnamese. The food sits in the price range of a student, typically costing around $8, with the most expensive meal costing $9. Now, many must have the question of whether Tốt is a new trademark of Kingsdale or a dead on arrival dud.
Firstly, Tốt Vietnamnoms’s interior aesthetically divides into two polarizing tones. Facing the door while standing outside, there is dry business in the west and a vivid party in the east. The west showcases minimalistic colors in a dreary fashion, with its walls populated only by a polar bear in a freezing snowstorm (A.K.A. the color white). Contrary to this, the east provides visual appeal in the fish mosaics and hanging light bulbs that are closer to that side. When staring at the whole restaurant, the noticeable difference may attract the viewer to the more decorated wing. Simply envisioning sitting in the west of the establishment delivers a cold sensation.
However, these criticisms are quelled by Tốt’s offering of carryout, rendering eating inside as optional. This brings the most important aspect of the business: the foods. While the menu offers only a few types of dishes, people may customize each main course to his/her own interests. These variations to the foods include several different types of meat, tofu, and even adding a fried egg.
One of the most recognizable Vietnamese meals, phở (I ate the phở Tái), is filling and satisfactory, but lacks balance. The signature phở broth requires more potency and saltiness and unfortunately outweighs the amount of noodles, veggies, and meat. People could possibly remedy the broth’s mildness by adding the hot sauce that sits at each table to it, as it provides far more intensity and flavor than typical hot sauce.
The sandwich dish of Bánhmì surpasses most other items at the restaurant in quality. The bread boasts a perfect crunch and the mayonnaise adds a diverse and creamy flavor to the vegetables and meat/tofu. Personally, I ordered tofu in my sandwich, and it serves as a valiant replacement for meat, with a thin crispy exterior and a soft but solid inner consistency.
Lemongrass chicken skewers are a delicious option for appetizers. The impaled poultries gush with succulent meat juices and pull apart easily to boot. Unfortunately, the chicken overstays its journey on the palate because of its slight chewiness, but nothing similar to the texture of fat.
Students may wonder how much they can wring from the Tốt towel during their typically 45 minute lunch period. Depending on a student’s time in the restaurant during lunch, it may be wise for him/her to avoid noodle bowls and simply purchase a more portable meal such as Bánhmì. However, if a person is able to enter the restaurant in a timely manner and on an empty stomach, then the phở may be better enjoyed, as the large amount of broth consume both time and vacancy in the gut.
Eating on the east side of the shop with the closing hours as the only time constraints is the best way to consume the food in Tốt Vietnamnoms (Tốt’s hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday). Students interested in a novel establishment to enter during their lunch periods may only be able to visit Vietnamnoms a few times for that purpose. The menu is limited for students during lunch because travel to the restaurant will likely leave time only for appetizers or sandwiches. However, weekends, summers, and exam days will warrant occasional further visits to the restaurant in place of the Kingsdale favorites.