We passed by ChaPa's Noodles and Grill, a Vietnamese eatery, several times and each time, this restaurant was packed. So we decided to give it a try. In fact, we gave it two tries! The first time we went and picked various dishes and then saw many people ordering their Pho (a Vietnamese dish consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat); so we decided to go another time to try the Pho.
So, the first time we went, we shared several plates.
The crispy calamari or Muc Chien Don:
I loved it: the calamari was not rubbery, the batter well cooked and very crispy, not greasy at all. The sweet chili sauce gave a nice Asian twist to this dish!
The veggie dumplings - steamed:
I liked these: the main problem I have usually with vegetable dumplings is that the shell can be very thick. These were perfect and very tasty!
The crab cakes:
It was made of crab meat seasoned with green onions, lemon and panko crumbs. The sauce on top was a spicy lemongrass mayonnaise. Although not the best crab cakes I ever had (lots of filler and not as much crab meat as I like), it was a nice Asian version of a crab cake and the lemongrass mayonnaise was a killer!
The Vietnamese Crispy Rolls (Chia Gao):
Inside the fried rice paper, were pork, taro, mushroom, carrots and glass noodles. Although a classic dish as opposed to most of the dishes we had so far, it was pretty good and tasty; the kind of dish that has a certain comfort into it...maybe from the frying part...
The Fried Tofu Mon Chinh:
This was my least favorite dish! The rice is on the left of the plate and looked like a thin net made of rice that was tasteless. I guess the idea is to make like a crepe with it, but I probably did not do it correctly...
Then we had the Pho: the vegetarian one.
And the meaty one called the Super Bowl:
Both came very, very hot! The Super Bowl had shrimp, squid, brisket, steak and beef balls. I enjoyed the seafood, although not that much and hated the meat: it was tough and the beef balls tasted like some processed meat (disgusting)! Both dishes were just ok and did not have the wow factor I was expecting! Even the broth was missing some depth. It was disappointing.
Last, for dessert, we ordered each time we went the black rice pudding:
Yes, you read well: we ordered it twice! It was so good! The black rice had a great chewy texture and with the coconut milk, it was to die for! Too bad they do not put enough milk on it!
So I have mixed feelings about this restaurant. We had some great dishes and some others not that great. Considering the number of Vietnamese restaurants in NYC, I am not sure, even after writing this review, that I would go back...Although the black rice pudding is fabulous!
Enjoy (I did)!