Carved wood... their toothpick holder.
By the window.
Lemon soda.
Chicken salad.
Fresh Spring Rolls.
Bok Choi.
Beef... sorry I forgot what this was.
The street entrance.
The hour that waits to pack-in the lunch crowd.What has been among my favorite Vietnamese dishes are chicken salad, cold glass noodles with topping, sometimes- pho ga (chicken noodle soup) with lots of beansprouts added- and fresh spring roll. Those are pretty much what I end up with. Not all of them in one meal of course. Unless... I were extremely hungry :o

My first encounter with this cuisine was lunch somewhere in the mysterious town of Ithaca, New York one summer... when I visited my brother back in Cornell University. He and his roommate were moving their stuff from their old place to a new one, incredibly relieved to leave their temperimental landlord, "Homer."

Within the campus up a slightly narrow street was a popular Vietnamese restaurant. I had no idea what to order so a cold glass noodle dish with sliced duck breast was recommended. Instantly, I loved it. I enjoyed looking at the bits of chopped mint, shredded peanuts, carrots, and lettuce all over the top as I mixed everything thoroughly with my chopsticks. We went back a couple of times before we left for the summer. I can still remember the little table by the window where my brother and I sat- on a wooden, tiny dining set. That day was cool, sunny and comfortable- just like a nice walk in the park.

Seventeen years later, I am able to enjoy other fares since sliced duck breast over cold glass noodles is not available here but salad-related dishes, noodle soups and spring roll cold noodles are. Since Vietnamese food consists of lots of colors, fresh vegetables, and not-so-greasy stuff either- I never really get tired of it.

I heard about BA NOI'S- a little Vietnamese place on Perea Street. So I finally went. Comfortable and clean- it was actually not packed yet since it was before noon. As I was browsing the menu though- some waitress knocked over a glass as she was clearing someone's table. And then shortly again after that- behind the bar in the back, some loud commotion happened which turned out to be caused by the same waitress. Hello, not her day I guess. I'm sensitive to those distracting noises from service staff.

As the lunch crowd came in, tables were occupied quickly but the problem was- there were only two waitresses. And, in the end- instead of waiting long for dessert, I canceled.

I tasted fine ingredients in each dish. You know how you can tell when good ingredients are used? Well here at BA NOI'S- that's the case. They did not have cold glass noodles with toppings though. But I had a chicken salad and fresh spring roll.