Opened in early June, Vietnam’s Central draws upon food from the center of the country, which features spicy food with French influences, like beef carpaccio and a calamari avocado salad.
“The central cuisine is completely different than most Vietnamese restaurants that have been established in the States in the past,” said owner Tuong Bui, who goes by Tom. He was born in a small town called Ninh Hoa, located in the south central coast, and learned cooking from his mother. He moved to the US at age 10, growing up in the Bronx and Queens. His parents owned a restaurant in TriBeCa for 13 years, and although Tom has worked in other industries, he always came back to food.
“It’s hard to convince people to try [central Vietnamese] food,” Tom said about the initial reception to his restaurant’s opening.
Vietnam’s Central offers a full vegetarian and vegan menu, but for the rest of us, there’s lemon shrimp, pork pot stickers, ribs seasoned with lemongrass, sesame oil and honey, and salt and pepper frog legs; all can be dipped in hot sauce that is made daily and not for the faint of spice. Everything can be made-to-order to account for food allergies. There’s even a caramel flan for dessert, which is baked, not made in a water bath.
One would expect pho, which is present, but there is no banh mi (the classic Vietnamese baguette sandwich with meats, cheese, and pickled veggies). Why? “In the central part of Vietnam, there’s mostly rice fields,” Tom said. “When you work in the fields, you want to eat something heavy, but not dry. You don’t have time to drink water.”
694 Central Park Ave, Scarsdale
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