Jersey City Mix-Up: Combining Grand Sichuan leftovers (dry and spicy chicken), crazy good unknown vegetables from Nha Trang Market (251 Newark Avenue) and leftover Indian spiced basmati rice
I love Nha Trang Market. I bought duck eggs there and aforementioned unknown vegetables. The vegetables are very fresh. It’s worth a stop in to it or the other market across the street to check out what the markets have in store.
Sadly, Jersey City’s hip Vietnamese fusion restaurant Rue Viet closed in late June. The Jersey City Independent wrote a brief article about the closing and there was no comment from the owner, Hoboken-native Dianna Muniz.
If you do get a hankering for Vietnamese on Newark Ave., try Nha Trang Place. It lacks the atmosphere but serves up some interesting and authentic Vietnamese dishes.
Like a half-painted lady, Rue Viet sits on the corner of Monmouth St. and Newark Ave., with bright yellow accents on an artfully weathered exterior. Inside you are greeted by a modern clean but “tongue-in-chic” design and an open kitchen populated by hip kitchen staff choreographed to the constant beat of Pandora’s tunes. Each table is accessorized with a canister of chicken-flavored peanuts (don’t knock it until you try it), Sriracha, and sliced hot peppers.
Rue Viet admits its food is not authentic but it succeeds in bringing fusion Vietnamese cuisine in a fashionable manner to Jersey City. The fluffy pork bun appetizers were sweet and slightly greasy, with a thin slice of cucumber slipped into each. The baked soy-ginger chicken wings lacked flavor for which ample Sriracha could not recompense. The main courses were banh mi, one a spicy chicken satay, another a fatty pork belly, and the last a traditional ham and pate. Although the proper elements were present - baguette, shredded pickled vegetables, cilantro - the sandwiches left a little to be desired for a banh mi afficionado. I like my baguette to require massive jaw force to break through accompanied by a shower of bread crumbs. The ham was disappointingly grocery-store quality.
*STUNT BANH MI, not the actual banh mi.
That being said, the sandwiches had a short life on the plate. Rue Viet keeps its menu brief and sweet but it also serves noodle dishes and pho. On the weekends the kitchen offers intriguing baked egg dishes which I look forward to sampling.
The fresh macaroons, made in house, were perhaps the star of the evening. They were slightly crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and finished with a thin layer of Nutella in the middle. It occurred to me that while Rue Viet does have a soft-serve ice cream machine, it does not have a coffee selection that would nicely complement the vibe and/or Vietnamese food.
In toto -
- Food: Fusion Vietnamese food, at times clumsy, but always fun. BYOB.
- Ambience: Chic modern and with a sense of humor.
- Pricing: Reasonable and worth it. Most dishes between $5 and $8.
- Service: Laid-back, cool yet attentive.
- Summary: Enjoy a decent fashionable meal here with friends or linger with your laptop.