Branching Out: Trying Two (New To Me) Vietnamese Restaurants On University Ave

Jake and I have different approaches to trying new restaurants.

It’s not that he won’t try new places with me. But once he finds his *favorite* version of something, he knows it and feels hesitant to branch out. After all, it’s a sure bet.

For me, the joy is in the journey. I might find something I really like, and might even love. But I can’t move past the nagging curiosity that my new favorite might be around the corner.

It’s no secret that we both love Quang, Minneapolis institution serving Vietnamese food since 1989. This Eater piece commemorates their new remodel and shares the family’s story. I took Jake here on a lark one holiday and he’s never looked back.

At Vietnamese restaurants, Jake always orders pho with the thinly sliced raw beef. I always order the Hu Tieu soup with rice noodles and a variety of pork, and seafood.

Read more about our love for Quang and the delivery by Door Dash here. 

The thing about the Twin Cities is that we are rich with good Vietnamese restaurants. If you ask residents where to find the best bowl of pho, they’re all going point you towards a good bowl of pho.

I made Jake try a new-to-us restaurant recently, and treated myself to solo meal at another this weekend. Both are restaurants in St. Paul along University Ave that I’ve seen many mention as their favorites:


iPho has a banh mi and bubble tea counter in the front with lots of seating in the dining room.

I ordered my usual favorite soup and jalapeno cream cheese wontons. Jake was on a work call and absent-mindedly ordered pho with brisket and tendon. He misread tendon as tenderloin. He also ordered spring rolls and the coconut water with coconut flesh – it tasted nutty and delicious.

Something I haven’t seen at other restaurants is an option to order three sizes of soup – the smallest was more than adequate for me, providing a full second meal. The biggest size is like a cauldron of soup – I saw one man unironically enjoying one.

The hospitality here is unmatched. It’s clear the employees really care that you like your meal.

The squiggles of tendon tasted mildly meaty with a toothsome texture. I thought both broths tasted good – savory, not too salty or sweet. They were loaded with noodles and meats.

Jake still missed Quang.

The only thing I didn’t love were the cream cheese wontons. I liked the thin slices of fresh jalapeno tucked into the filling, but the wrappers opened during frying and were oily.

Our server generously packed our leftovers with much care – even separating the soup broth from the fillings to ensure the noodles didn’t get soggy. I can see how many love iPho.

Trieu Chau

I’ve actually been here before, about nine years ago. An ex-boyfriend took me and neither of us ordered soup.

Trieu Chau opens at 10 a.m. making it the perfect brunch. I arrived at 11:15 on Saturday and grabbed the last two-top. Within fifteen-minutes customers continued to stream inside, filling every single table.

I ordered my usual soup, except the spicy version laced with chili oil. It had a slight kick which I accentuated with Sriracha.

There’s something about this soup that I especially liked. Like iPho, the broth struck a nice balance. All of the fillings were plentiful. As I dug into the bowl, little jewels I hadn’t seen before would float to the surface, like a shrimp or calamari curl.

The cream cheese wontons are one of the better versions of themselves. People who love this purse pouch version will love them. Quang’s triangle fold with the cream cheese seasoned with little bits of carrot and green onion are still my personal favorite version of all time.

Where to next? Feel free to comment below about your favorite Vietnamese restaurant.

1 Comment

  1. Aaron

    I strongly recommend trying the banh mi sandwiches at iPho – they are seriously the best in the Twin Cities – by far! My favorite is the Special – number B7.
    On a different note, my favorite Vietnamese soup was the house special at the dearly departed Jasmine Deli in the 2500 block of Nicollet which has transformed into something else and they don’t offer that soup anymore. Boohoo.

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