San Antonio 100: Viet-Nam's Crunchy, Chewy, Larger-than-life Spring Rolls

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Quick! How many of Viet-Nam’s delicious spring rolls do you think they make by hand every day?

If you guessed about 300, you’d be correct.

Open six days a week, and for over 42 years, that comes out to about 3,931,200 spring rolls in the San Antonio institution’s lifetime. That’s a whole heck of a lot of spring rolls. And I wish I’d had them all.

These spring rolls are not just normal food. They’re comfort food, haute cuisine and unbridled bliss in edible form all rolled into one delectable dish. They’re huge and plentiful. The small order alone can be its own meal. Served with lettuce leaves and cilantro (because … San Antonio), you can create a most magnificent wrap for yourself: order a side of white rice — yes, carb haters, do it this one time, you’ll thank me. Put a spoonful of rice in a lettuce leaf. Place a spring roll on top of the rice, wrap the lettuce around and pour Viet-Nam’s signature garlic sauce over the spring roll until it drizzles out the other side. Then bite. It’s an honest-to-God stairway to heaven if there ever was one.

click to enlarge San Antonio 100: Viet-Nam's Crunchy, Chewy, Larger-than-life Spring Rolls
Charlie Smith
The thick, crispy, crunchy rice paper exterior, magnificently fried in vegetable oil, is slightly salty, slightly sweet and slightly chewy in the most amazing way. And that’s just the beginning. For once you’ve broken through the shell, you encounter a holy grail of fillings, a soft yet firm mix of pork, mushrooms, glass noodles, white onions, and egg all with a flavor that just won’t stop. This old family recipe from North Vietnam, I’m told by the owner, is as traditional as you’d find in the tiny South Asian nation a half a world away.

Located on Broadway, just north of Mulberry, with parking accessible in the rear accessed off side street Natalen Avenue, Viet-Nam is one of those landmark restaurants that has not changed since its inception, and we’re so glad they haven’t.

3244 Broadway, (210) 822-7461.