One of my favorite sportswriters, Peter King, lived in Montclair, NJ for many years before moving to Boston last year (yeah!). Nope, I wasn’t stalking him; he frequently mentioned Montclair in his weekly football column. And when I drove there for work a few weeks ago, I realized the only thing I knew about Montclair was that Peter King used to live there.
Now, having been a few times, I’ve learned something else about Montclair — it’s an attractive town with an enviable number of ethnic restaurants. Among them: Ethiopian, Greek, Jamaican, Thai, Peruvian… there seems to be a little of everything on the main drag. It’s impressive — and makes me slightly jealous.
And there’s Vietnamese! Well, okay, it’s not actually in Montclair, but minutes away in the next town of Bloomfield. I found this place on Yelp when I was looking to grab a bite before a meeting.
The shopping plaza itself is interesting — it’s called The East West Plaza, and is like a tiny Asian enclave, with an Asian bakery and an Asian supermarket.
I wouldn’t classify Binh Duong as a hole-in-the-wall, but “no-nonsense” and “focused on food over ambience” sound about right.
I placed my order and the food came out practically straight away. First the hot-out-the-fryer spring rolls, which I rolled in the lettuce leaves and dipped in nuom chac sauce.
And then my noodle bowl of grilled chicken, vermicelli noodles, crunchy veggies and more nuom chac.
The noodles were a little wet — they could have used one more shake in the strainer. Other than that, this was just what I appreciate about Vietnamese cuisine: textures, flavors and freshness. The cost of the noodle bowl? $6.50. That’s a good deal.
It’s fair to say there are abundant dining options to choose from on my next trip to Montclair/Bloomfield. It’s just too bad Peter King doesn’t live there anymore. We could have talked football and eaten Vietnamese.
61 Belleville Ave.