Vermicelli is an odd name for a Vietnamese restaurant at first glance. Isn’t it an Italian term for pasta? Yes, but vermicelli also describes various types of noodles from Asia. In Vietnam, vermicelli is the term that describes angel hair pasta.
Vermicelli Restaurant opened in June at the location of the former Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in the Amador Ridge Shopping Plaza. It’s right next door to Thai Siam, and it’s in the same group of restaurant buildings that include Jamba, Round Table Pizza, and Oko Sushi. Vermicelli didn’t take the space previously occupied by Dickey’s party room (and a yogurt shop before that).
On August 12, my mother and I decided to try Vermicelli, and she called the restaurant at around 5:30 p.m. The person on the phone said she would have to call back because she was taking care of customers and didn’t want to repeat my mother’s credit card number over the phone in front of them.
A few minutes later, Vermicelli called back and got my mother’s payment information. My mother told the nice woman on the phone that I would be there between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m. When I arrived at 6:15 p.m., I immediately noticed that the inside of the restaurant has been completely redesigned with laminate wood flooring, wood accents on the walls, and large dining areas.
The woman I talked with at the table near the front door apologized and said she was still waiting for my banh mi sandwich. After I popped over to the nearby Starbucks and returned 15 minutes later, the meal was waiting for me in three Styrofoam boxes stacked within a plastic bag. (The receipt in the box had 6:15 written on it.) I didn’t have to sign a payment slip, either.
I hadn’t had Vietnamese food in years, and I had read a lot of positive things about banh mi sandwiches. So, when I saw the Vermicelli menu offers banh mi sandwiches, I ordered one with sauteed tofu and lemongrass instead of meat.
The banh mi sandwich has a six-inch thin baguette for bread, which wasn’t surprising considering the influence of French cuisine in Vietnam. Between the slices of bread, I found cucumber, small slices of pickled radishes and carrots, soy sauce, and the aforementioned tofu and lemongrass.
The menu also states that they put egg butter on the bread and include jalapeno relish, but I didn’t taste either of them. Only the soy sauce, pickled radishes, and pickled carrots brought the taste, and the bread had a lot of crunch. What’s more, the bread itself was firm but not stale. If you’re someone who has some issues eating somewhat thick slices of bread, though, you may want to eat the sandwich open-faced.
The tofu and other condiments brought needed weight and texture to the sandwich, but Vermicelli doesn’t spice their tofu as Thai Siam does. So, I couldn’t tell if I was eating tofu instead of meat until I picked off a piece of tofu and tasted it separately. There was also food in every bite of the sandwich, which I always appreciate.
My mother ordered the Vietnamese Rice Plate with chicken shown in the top photo. The Styrofoam box had a nice presentation of jasmine rice with parsley garnish, about a dozen slices of grilled chicken that sat on a large lettuce leaf, tomato and cucumber slices, small slices of radishes and carrots, and a lidded plastic cup with sauce.
As my mother ate, she tried some of the sauce but couldn’t identify the taste. It appeared to be nuoc cham, a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce that contains water, sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce. She ate most of her meal without the sauce, which she said allowed her to taste all the flavors of the jasmine rice.
She also liked the lightly-seasoned chicken, though she found a bone in one of the pieces. As she ate the vegetables, she also bit into a thick slice of cucumber rind. Despite those discoveries, she was pleased with the freshness of the food and singled out the taste of the rice.
And That’s Not All
We also ordered two spring rolls to accompany our meals, in part because I needed something on the side to complement my sandwich. You can order spring rolls with your choice of meat or fried tofu, and we chose the fried tofu.
Within the Styrofoam box, we found two large spring rolls garnished with parsley. The rolls contained only rice noodles, lettuce, and large chunks of tofu inside rice wrappers. Vermicelli serves its spring rolls with peanut sauce that came in a large lidded cup.
The spring rolls themselves had very little taste. Fortunately, the peanut sauce was full of flavor and included tiny bits of peanuts. If you want to hold the rolls and dip them in the sauce, rice wrappers are fragile and will easily fall apart in your hand if you’re not careful. After I tried my hand at dipping, I found it easier to put the peanut sauce on the roll and eat it with a fork.
One spring roll is certainly enough for one person at one meal. My mother’s meal was so filling that she decided the roll was too much and saved it for lunch the next day. She told me the roll was very good and so filling that she didn’t need any more food to get her through the afternoon.
Vermicelli is a good addition to the list of county restaurants. Their staff is friendly and despite the delivery hiccup, the food is served fresh and each part of the meal is served at the right temperature. And if you like Vietnamese food, check them out.
Green light from both of us.
The total cost of our meals was just short of $28.
Want to Try Them?
Vermicelli also offers several pho (ramen) dishes, a salad, several appetizers, and drinks including Vietnamese coffee. They’re open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Saturdays, and also offers several lunch deals from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Their website includes basic information, and you can view their one-page menu when you click the Menu button on the home page. Once you decide what you want, order by phone at 916-712-4487.
Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.