5721 Menaul Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
Two weeks ago I needed a quick, cheap lunch to fill me that was close to the mall. Since I have been to both Pho Nguyen and Kim Long, I decided to go to the third, and last, Vietnamese restaurant in the area: Viet Taste.
I entered the restaurant at about 2:30 in the afternoon and was ready to eat. Since it was blistering hot outside, I skipped over the pho options and headed straight for the Com Tam (Broken Rice) plates. After taking a quick look, I decided to order the rice plate with pork chop and pork skin.
After about 10-15 minutes, my food came out and something immediately struck me: this was no ordinary Vietnamese grilled pork chop. Normally Vietnamese grilled pork chops I’m used to are thinner with a rich, dark brown marinade. Instead, it came out dark red, similar to Cantonese style char siu (barbeque pork). Intrigued and hungry, I sliced away and the barbeque turned out to be pretty good and similar to a very lightly roasted char siu. The pork chop wasn’t rich in flavors from the sauce, but the meat with slight coloring, caramelization, and flavoring of the skin gave it a light, but good flavor. It was just slightly overcooked, but all in all not bad. It didn’t hurt that there was a lot of meat in the pork chop too. The pork skins were pretty good and less salty than usual, which I liked. The fish sauce could have been a little stronger, but all in all it cut through the dryness of the pork skin and the density of the pork chop very well.
Service was great as well, despite the unusually busy dining room on a Sunday mid-afternoon. Ice water glasses came out fast and were refilled very frequently.
As a bonus to this dining experience, I overheard a conversation at the next table over where two non-Asian parents told their child to eat the slice of daikon on their plate. The parents described daikon as “white carrot” which I found amusingly appropriate, given that carrots are “red daikon” in Cantonese. Viet Taste may not be the best Vietnamese restaurant in Albuquerque, but it’s a solid contender with some of the most delightfully interesting conversations in town.