Di An Di
Di An Di is a loud restaurant. On an average night here, you’ll see families eating in one corner, a group of Dutch tourists in another, and lots of date nights, all with an open kitchen in the background. But if you listen closely, you’ll hear a similar iteration of the same thing being said at every table around you. “Holy sh*t, this is good.”
From the day Di An Di opened, this Vietnamese spot in the middle of Greenpoint has been packed. That alone would have made Di An Di a rarity a few years ago, when convincing someone to travel to this notoriously-inconvenient neighborhood was like asking them to meet you for dinner in Terminal 2 at JFK. But now, Greenpoint is simply a place where everyone wants to hang out. And they all want to be at Di An Di.
Walk into Di An Di, and besides a line of people waiting at the host stand, you’ll see a lot of plants, a lot of pastel pink, and a lot of Scandinavian-looking furniture. And you might think, that’s why everyone’s here. It looks cool.
And sure, it’s a very attractive place, and plants never hurt. But the real draw here is the incredible food. The menu covers a spectrum of Vietnamese cooking, with traditional dishes on one end, original Di An Di inventions on the other, and a lot of classics with a twist in the middle. There are bánh xèo-wrapped summer rolls stuffed with grilled pork, turmeric catfish that comes to your table in a sizzling cast iron skillet, and a shredded chicken salad that’s very quietly waiting for the moment when everyone realizes it’s one of the best things here. And the Pho Thin, packed with perfectly-cooked noodles, brisket, and scallions, and topped with an egg yolk, is one of our favorite bowls of soup in the city.
If you’re coming here by yourself, you can sit at the bar, order a cocktail or sake and any of the soups, and walk out with a better worldview than you had 45 minutes earlier. But the best way to experience this restaurant is to come with people and order a lot. You won’t have to spend a crazy amount of money to fill every inch of your table, so that there’s barely enough room for the carousel of homemade sauces you can try with every dish. And that’s exactly what you should be doing here.
So yeah, Di An Di is going to be loud, and probably also crowded. If that’s a problem for you, make a reservation, and if it’s not, use this opportunity to wait things out at one of the great bars nearby. Once you’re seated, it’ll be worth whatever commute or amount of patience it took you to get here. And, in addition to the tables around you, make sure you listen to the specials. You’re going to want to order those too.
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Gỏi Bưởi / Pomelo Salad With Rock Shrimp
Like a rain shower, gust of cold subway wind, or your friend who tends to be too honest, this citrus and shrimp salad is refreshing. Get it if you don’t harbor irrational fears of mixing proteins with fruit.
Thịt Heo Đuôi Chiên Giòn / Crispy Pig Tails
Kind of like eating sweet and spicy wings. Except, you know, they’re pig instead of chicken and tail instead of wing.
Bánh Tráng Trộn / Rice Paper Salad
Light, yet addictive. The homemade beef jerky, peanuts, and shrimp floss make this a salad that will disappear quickly from your table.
Baby Mustard Green Roll
Good for vegans, and for anyone who wants to start dinner with something light and fresh. Keep the dipping sauce around for later.
Bánh Tráng Nướng Chay / Vietnamese “Pizza” with Mushroom
There are three Vietnamese “pizzas” on the menu (with grilled crispy rice crust) that come to your table with fancy gold scissors for cutting assistance. This one, with eggplant and mushroom, is our favorite of the bunch.
Banh Trang Nuong So / Vietnamese “Pizza” With Clams
This is up there (alongside a pizza at Pasquale Jones) in our rankings for best clam-on-carb dish in NYC.
Bo Thai Chanh / Beef Carpaccio
Funky and sweet from the fermented anchovy and pineapple dressing, bitter and fresh thanks to the watercress and papaya salad on top.
Banh Bot Chien / Fried Daikon Rice Cake Omelette
It takes a lot for us to get excited about an omelette. This is an omelette that we are extremely excited about. Stuffed with big pieces of fried daikon rice cake, and served with a soy vinegar sauce for dipping, it’s one of the best things on the menu.
Phở Thìn Hà Nội / Beef Phở Hanoi
You will feel like an extremely lucky person to be eating any of the five bowls of phở at Di An Di. But this is the one we keep coming back to. It’s packed with tender brisket, noodles, and at least two large handfuls of scallions, along with an egg yolk on top, and could easily be shared amongst four people. We’d recommend you hoard as much of it for yourself as you can.
Bún Bò Huế / Spicy Lemongrass Beef Noodle Soup
If you’re looking for a spicy, richer soup, this is your order. The noodles are a bit thicker, if that’s another thing that might tip your decision towards this instead of the phở.
Phở Gà / Bo Bo Chicken Noodle Soup
Much less rich, but no less good, than the other protein-based soups at Di An Di. Also scientifically proven to help you leave this restaurant with a better life outlook than when you walked in.
Bánh Xéo / Thin And Crispy Crepe
A super-thin turmeric pancake, stuffed with a mix of pork, shrimp, mung bean, and bean sprouts. Wrap it all up in some lettuce with herbs, dip it in sauce, and you get an excellent combination of flavors and textures. This is a great contrast to the bowl of pho that’s hopefully also on your table.