Hot on the heels of a scheduling error, I found myself at HNVX just a week after my first visit. Exactly nothing at all had changed, just as I suspected it wouldn’t. The decor was still just as rave-y, the waitstaff was still as quick and polite as before, and the menu was just as extensive. Clearly I would need to look harder if I hoped to find something new to complain about.
” It’s like trying to eat spaghetti with a rubber mallet and a football “
My wife and I met our previously-scheduled friend just inside HNVX and followed the host person to a cozy table. By “cozy” of course I mean “nestled between a pillar of glowing purple glass bricks and a wall textured like an avocado”. Naturally. After scanning the menu, we formulated our attack plan for dinner and relayed the order to our waitperson. We selected papaya salad (I was outvoted), pineapple beef short ribs, and a bowl of “Pho You, Pho Me”, HNVX’s questionably-named interpretation of classic Vietnamese noodle soup. Because we liked them so much last time, we also ordered some crispy potstickers and Kobe rolls.
The papaya salad arrived first, and I reluctantly but politely scooped some onto my plate. I took a tentative bite… and wow! What a great dish. I quickly cleaned my plate and took another helping. Delish! It was crispy, light, and had a mild sweet flavor that was superb and palette-cleansing. And here I thought I didn’t like papaya. I’d certainly order that again.
Next up were the short ribs, and they smelled great. Curiously, a spoon was provided. A spoon? I can think of a dozen different ways to eat ribs, and exactly zero of them involve the use of a spoon. Come to think of it, that was the same story with the colossal prawns on our last visit – they came with an utterly useless spoon. Seriously, why? It’s like trying to eat spaghetti with a rubber mallet and a football.
Ignoring the pointless utensil (accidental pun!), the short ribs were excellent. They were marinated and grilled to perfection, and the quality of the beef met even my absurdly picky standards. They didn’t last very long though, but we also had potstickers and Kobe rolls to keep us busy. Regardless, thumbs up on the ribs.
Finally, and with much anticipation, the pho arrived in a huge bowl. We ladled it out into smaller bowls (note puddles of sloshed soup in above photo) and got to work. It was magnificent. There are probably better examples of the breed lurking somewhere in the dark corners of the Bay Area, but for my money I’m quite happy indeed with HNVX’s rendition. The beef was tender and flavorful, the broth was rich, and there were plenty of noodles to go around. The next time we come here I will definitely be getting this, and I won’t be sharing.
I’m happy to report that my second visit to HNVX was better than the first one, and the first one certainly wasn’t bad at all. With a wider sampling of the menu literally under my belt, I’ve upped the Om-nom-eter™ a tick from its previous reading.
110 Castro Street
Mountain View, CA 94041