Food & Drink

Come for the pho, stay for the expansive Vietnamese menu at VK Noodle House

Spicy fried shrimp are served shell on.
Spicy fried shrimp are served shell on. Special to the Sun Herald

VK Noodle House is a classic Vietnamese restaurant. The menu is divided into appetizers and salads, pho (Vietnamese style clear broth, rice noodle soup), vermicelli noodles, egg noodles and rice dishes. This is exactly what you might expect, but VK has a local charm that is hard to ignore.

It has been in the same strip mall in Ocean Springs for eight years, so many of the customers are regulars. This lends a friendly and causal atmosphere some larger places lack. It is not a big restaurant at all (12 tables, tops), but, as you might expect, a fair amount of business is take-out, so seating, even during the rush, is manageable.

Even if you are new to Vietnamese cuisine, you are probably aware that pho is the national dish of the country. It was developed in Hanoi, in the far north, but today is accepted in all three major regions as a staple. More often than not, it is beef based, but you can find it made with chicken and seafood. Take a long look at the menu if you are in the mood for a great soup, there are a dozen combinations of ingredients to choose from. If you are a newbie, I suggest No. 22 ($8.95), basic pho made with eye of round.

Please don’t think that Vietnamese food is monochromatic, in a culinary way. Every category on this menu is loaded with delicious offerings. Just to prove my point, my guest, Leslie Fenton, and I avoided the pho selection altogether and started with an appetizer that many might find unusual. We split an order of spicy, salty, pepper prawns ($8.95), and as advertised, they were delicious. Spicy and chewy and served with a sweet and hot sauce, lightly battered in the tempura style and shell on (the chewy part). Don’t think indigestible shrimp shells, but do think a delightful contrast in textures. Spot on.

We decided to eat family style and so split orders of vermicelli noodles with grilled pork and egg roll ($8.95) and Vietnamese pad Thai noodles with fried tofu (also $8.95). Both dishes qualified high on the scale of comfort food. The vermicelli noodles were absolutely delicious, with tender slices of pork, but what makes this dish sing is the perfectly balanced dipping sauce. This is a classic Vietnamese offering and it ranks very high on my list of all-time favorites.

The Vietnamese pad Thai was better than you might think when served with slightly chewy fried tofu. This is a stir-fry, so it does come off as hearty, and the thick noodles succulent. I’d be more than happy to try this dish again.

Many Asian cuisines value contrasting textures, so something served soft is quite likely to have something chewy alongside it, just as a balance of sweet, salty and hot is much revered.

VK Noodle House has a loyal following, and for good reason. Bring the family, share what you order, and explore one of the world’s great cuisines.

VK Noodle House

Where: 2941 Bienville Blvd, Ocean Springs

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Phone: 228-872-1444

Etc.: Cash only, ATM available