Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro

An around the corner move 
lends room to some old favorites

Cilantro's New Home

      Eric and I started going to Cilantro around 10 years ago when it was a hole-in-the-wall with barely enough room to sit down estaminet on Clifton Avenue.  It had that feel of being in the middle of a university and, more appropriately, a space that could be found in an alley of Saigon.  The pho soups and noodle dishes, combined with a 1-2-3 simple order concept, were fairly new to our city at the time.  The tastes and smells
were delightful and we returned time and time again taking friends and family.

Cilantro's New Interior
      When they decided to go for a more polished look earlier this year, we were concerned that the charm of the original would be lost.  It's not.  Elbow room was always an issue and that has been addressed in a contemporary and calming area, although a little generic in design aesthetics. The staff was laid back and attentive—attractive, yet edgy.  Regular wood top dining tables were combined with high tops and a counter with bar stools. The tables were set with forks and chopsticks rolled together in a napkin. It's a subtle and thoughtful way to address the universality of the area and patrons.

Pork Shoulder Bahn Mi
      The dishes offered were pretty much a carryover from the old menu, with the addition of banh mi (sandwiches) and some desserts.  The Noodle Bowls (Bun) were always our favorite, so we decided to share one made with pork fried rolls.  We didn't remember that from the old place, so it gave us the chance to try an updated version and share the new Pork Shoulder Bahn Mi.  The sandwich was on a light 6-inch roll piled with pickled carrots, cucumbers, daikon and, of course, cilantro.  We added pate that definitely layered on a richness to the meat and overall sandwich.

Pork Fried Roll Noodle Bowl
The vermicelli rice noodles were at the bottom of the bowl ready to be mixed with thinly cut romaine lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, sliced pork rolls, and tossed with their house dressing.  Sweet, tangy, fresh, and wonderful!  

      Cincinnati has grown quite a bit with its international cuisine offerings since CIlantro first opened.  It's good to find that it still stands high among them. And, it's one of the most reasonable neighborhood dining gems.

Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro on Urbanspoon

I always like a bargain!

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