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Another Great Vietnamese Option

20 December 2008 1,782 views 2 Comments

demoNormally when I’m in search of passable Vietnamese in Austin I think of three options: Hai Ky, Sunflower, and lulu b’s. Now I’ll add another to the mix — Le Soleil, located up north on Lamar near Rundberg Lane. Rumor has it that Le Soleil was opened by the ex-husband of the owner of Sunflower, after their divorce.

Sara B. introduced me to Sunflower and after tasting their prawns with garlicky noodles, I was hooked. Sara ordered our group a delicious array of her favorite foods there (I can’t remember the exact menu) and it was fabulous. I have been back many times since. Drawbacks are the service, brightness, and smell of cleaning products that I often notice.
Hai Ky has at least two locations around town and have the best pho in town — cheap and huge and perfect for a quick meal or to fight off a cold. Lulu B’s is a trailer on S. Lamar and they are only open for lunch. I recommend their rice paper rolls and banh mi. They also have vermicelli bowls.
Le Soleil is definitely a hole in the wall — I felt kind of like I was in a school cafeteria with the bright lights and lack of decoration. There was no music playing and the only entertainment (other than the owner) was the flat screen TV showing sports in one corner.
The owner was hilarious and very sweet and friendly. He kept giggling at almost everything we said — I almost felt like I was at Thai Tara on W. 6th where the waiter laughs so much that I sometimes wonder what pharmaceuticals he has been taking. Adam suggested Le Soleil and he was hoping that it would feature French-influenced Vietnamese food but that was not the case despite the French name. The owner is actually from South Vietnam.
catfishWe ordered a Vietnamese Seafood Crepe ($7) that is actually an omelet filled with sprouts, shrimp, calamari, and mung beans. People rave about this on Yelp but for us, it was “eh” and too greasy.
The main course we ordered to share was a fried catfish served whole with garlic sauce and peanuts. It’s listed in Vietnamese on the menu but is #91 and is available in different sizes based on weight. They didn’t have the smallest size available so we ordered the second one up for $30.95. I can’t remember how many pounds it was but we could have easily shared it with a third person as well. It is served with a side of noodles, basil, mint, mung beans, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, cilantro and lettuce. The best part is the rice wrappers that you dip in water and create yourself and can add whatever you want and then dip in either fish or peanut sauce. This dish was delicious and I highly recommend it!
When I go back I’m definitely going to check out the Shaken Beef and maybe the Salted Prawns (modeled after Sunflower’s delicious dish).
Speaking of catfish, have any of you seen the documentary Okie Noodling? I highly recommend the film – it is hilarious. Did you know that they are making a follow-up documentary called Okie Noodling II? Really!
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  • Laetitia

    I really like Le Soleil too. I’ve always had great food experience there.

  • Adam Norwood

    On Friday we went to another good Vietnamese place up in the same area: Thanh Nhi (http://www.yelp.com/biz/thanh-nhi-austin) Not bad, you should check them out sometime! Also lacking in ambiance, but the vermicelli bowl I had hit the spot, and their shrimp spring rolls and pho were reportedly excellent. I’ll have to try Le Soleil sometime, especially since it has the Sunflower connection…