Would we go back:
1105 University Ave W
• Shrimp and pork spring rolls $3.95 (shared)
• Spicy meatballs with rice noodles and lettuce $8.95
Hao Bien used to be one of my favorite stops for lunch when I used to work near St. Paul. I have had there noodle salad any number of times and I have always enjoyed it.
Dinner, at least this early of a dinner, was a bit of different experience as it was not packed when I arrived...although it was fairly busy by the time we left. The meatballs I had were excellent. And I also enjoyed the spring rolls which were a great rendition of a popular appetizer.
It is a great Vietnamese restaurant and worth a try if you are in the area.
• Pho - with combination beef and noodles $7.95
I really liked Hoa Bien. The shrimp and pork spring rolls were fresh and delicious, and the dipping sauce was very tasty. The pho was also very good. A word of caution: the combination beef comes with tripe, and I could only stomach two pieces of it, even though it tasted fine. The other beef in the pho was much more normal - or maybe I tried to block it out of my mind after seeing the tripe. Some of the pieces of beef were chewy, others tender, which gave the entrée a variety of textures. The fresh basil and copious rice noodles made this a hit.
As other web sites mention, the décor is a well-lit, family restaurant with ample space in the parking lot. Service is friendly, well-timed and attentive. All in all, it’s worth trying if you like or want to try Vietnamese food, although I still have other favorites.
November 8, 2008