It ain’t turkey: A steaming bowl of pho from Nhu Y is the cure for turkeysandwich overload. (photo by Brian Clarey)
As the long holiday weekend rolled out, I found myself nauseated by the idea of more turkey and gravy. Mashed potatoes had lost their luster. And I’d be damned if I was going to eat another helping of stuffing or sweet potatoes.
I wanted something exotic and decidedly un-American, something tasty, to be sure, and something with at least the pretense of nutrition to fend off what was becoming a lingering early winter cold.
So I hit the ethnic district on High Point Road, a mish-mash of Indian grocery stores, Hispanic clothiers and Asian restaurants, until I happened upon Nhu Y, a genuine noodle house right in the middle of Greensboro.
Inside I found a simple dining room with Vietnamese accents, a few tables of Southeast Asians finishing lunch and a polite server who tried to make some sense of the menu — which boasts more than 170 items.
Of these choices, more than 30 of them were drinks: excellent iced coffees, hot teas, plenty of sodas and juices and a few exotic items that are difficult to find even in Greensboro, which has a healthy Southeast Asian restaurant contingent: avocado drink, jackfruit drink, durian drink, soda with salty lemon, soda with milk and egg, pennywort, made from centella leaves. I stuck with a pot of hot tea on that cold afternoon.
We are fortunate in Greensboro to have an excellent slate of Thai, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants, with authentic and exotic dishes that both challenge and excite the palate. I’ve been steadily working my way through them over the years, but every so often I encounter a new place tucked behind busy roads or hidden in seldom-traveled neighborhoods. Indeed, I stumbled upon Nhu Y quite by accident, a serendipitous discovery that yielded an excellent meal.
As I’ve mentioned, this is an authentic noodle house, with dishes based on rice noodles, wonton, dry noodles and the like, more than 70 variations on this theme. And there is a good list of house special entrees as well as a few hot-pot dinners meant to be shared.
I settled on No. 21, pho, a basic beef noodle dish, with Vietnamese meatballs and a spicy, salubrious broth. No tripe or tendon for me, but aficionados of the cuisine will be heartened to know that these regional delicacies are indeed on the menu, as is all manner of seafood and chicken.
Before the food came out, my server placed on the table a pile of raw vegetables and herbs: Thai basil, cilantro, fresh jalapeo, lime, bean sprouts. Also set up tableside were bottles of soy sauce, teriyaki and Sriracha along with a couple pots of ground red-pepper paste. When the pho came out I added a few dollops of the bright-red peppers and one of the darker version, which had lemongrass and some other herbs in it.
The greens and veggies cooked slightly in the broth, and the thinly sliced beef, which was raw before being introduced to the bowl, was tender and delicious. Vietnamese meatball, unlike their Italian cousins, are dense and well formed, bereft of bread crumbs but with a subtle spicing that is very pleasing.
The broth took on a beautiful red tint after I stirred in my spices, and from the first slurp I felt my body thanking me for foregoing another turkey sandwich.
Nhu Y 3821 R High Point Road, Greensboro, 336.271.2999