Bun thang with organic chicken
It's not always easy to settle on the right spot for lunch around Silver Lake or Echo Park, especially if you've been to Gingergrass once too many times. Viet Noodle Bar strikes the right balance between taco-stand casual and more formal places like Vermont -- but its pure, clean Vietnamese dishes might be more suited to ladies who lunch than to the heartier eaters. Banh mi are tasty but tiny
Since Viet Noodle expanded into the space next door, it has added several new sandwiches and noodle dishes to the menu, but I'm not sure what ever happened to the wrap 'n roll concept Viet was playing around with earlier. Instead of pho, we tried bun thang, with organic chicken, herbs, egg and assorted other goodies ($9.00). It's not as rich as pho, but light and flavorful enough on a cool and cloudy day, especially with a shot of sriracha sauce. The whitefish banh mi is rather petite at $6.75, but the fish's curry sauce provides the sandwich with a good jolt of flavor. Dessert of housemade tofu with ginger syrup (above) also makes you feel quite virtuous. Like Aun Deli, Viet Noodle Bar kind of makes me want to stop for pastries or something afterwards to counteract the lightness of it all, but of course, it's probably how we should be eating all the time. Like the cute hipster guy who crashes on your couch but never replenishes the beer supply, Viet Noodle Bar has a few slight annoyances: it's cash only, there's no alcohol and there's no regular hot tea, only caffeine-free, and what's the point of that? But it's full of unfailingly attractive neighborhood folks, it's stylish and spare, and while it's certainly not cheap, the food is mostly quite good. And that's enough for a pleasant lunch on a blustery day.