The Tran family’s new nosh spot in Scottsdale puts an Americanized spin on Vietnamese dishes.
Your eyes are not playing tricks. The plate is slanted. Clever, given the name of this fourth Vietnamese eatery from the Tran family, known for putting a modern – and American – spin on food from their homeland.
If you’ve eaten at the Trans’ Rice Paper in Phoenix, you’ll recognize a good portion of the menu at Slanted Rice, a stylish Scottsdale spot located in the same upscale strip mall as Houston’s and Bink’s Scottsdale. You’ll also recognize the Tran flair for design in the dining room, which is elegantly splashed with shades of gray. The only things out of place are the three TVs jammed into the corner bar, one perpetually tuned to the Food Network.
The menu is categorized into appetizers, fresh spring rolls (goi cuon), salads, noodle soups (pho), rice vermicelli (bun) and specialty plates. The appetizer list is dominated by fried vittles like egg rolls ($5-$9) and salt and pepper shrimp ($10), which aren’t exactly salty or peppery. As much as I love fried foods, I’ll stick with the fresh, cool spring rolls ($4-$6), filled with vermicelli noodles, lettuce, cucumbers, mint and sprouts. The best seller is shrimp and pork with creamy peanut sauce, but I like the sweet, charred pork sausage and wonton version better.
Rice noodle soups ($9-$13; or $6 for half portions) don’t compare to the complexity of versions offered in several of the less stylish, less expensive Vietnamese shops around town, but for the uninitiated, these retiring versions are a good introduction, featuring noodles swimming in star anise-scented broth, served with a side of plump bean sprouts, Thai basil, jalapeño and lime.
For maximum flavor, order the shaken beef ($15 lunch; $20 dinner), a sizzling platter of sweet, soy-marinated beef tenderloin tips served over caramelized onions on a cast-iron skillet – think Asian fajitas. It comes with a side of jasmine rice, a small green salad and a bowl of vegetarian pho broth.
Some desserts are made in-house, but one that isn’t should become a menu staple: Key lime tart ($6), a pleasant, mouth-puckering curd encased in a buttery crust. It’s near perfect. Specialty cocktails ($9) are tasty and have an Asian bend.
Service is always cordial and the first question I was asked on a couple occasions is: “Are you familiar with Vietnamese food?” Yes, I am, and Slanted Rice isn’t what I’d call authentic, but it’s suitable for novices and the neighborhood with its chic, cozy digs, gracious and knowledgeable servers, and Vietnamese fare slanted toward the American palate. That’s the straight dope.
Contact: 6149 N. Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, 480-696-3116, slantedrice.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Highlights: Sweet pork with crispy wonton spring roll ($5); shaken beef ($15/$20); Key lime tart ($6)
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