My friend Phương says there are no authentic Vietnamese restaurants in New York... that all of them are run by Chinese, and New Tự Do appears to be no exception. Having never been to Viet Nam, I'm no expert on authentic Vietnamese food, but I do know that most Vietnamese joints in New York do indeed suck, and this one is just about the only one I find myself wanting to return to regularly.
Occasionally, in winter, I will get the decliously rich chicken curry noodle soup (Phở Carry Gà, complete with a chunk of potato or two), but generally I never get anything but phở, and that's why you should go here. My usual is the No. 1 Đặc Biệt Xe Lửa, with all the beef cuts, and it's more than a meal. Sometimes, nothing but a big bowl of that renowned beef soup with rice noodles will do... Tự Do's has fresh ingredients, clear textures, clean flavors, and the broth tastes more or less right. Doctor it up to your taste with the condiments on the table and... what more could you ask for? Especially at six bucks, or less, a bowl!
New Tự Do
102 Bowery, New York 10013
view menu (old location)
(D train to Grand St., one block south on Bowery)