I went to Cơm Tấm Ninh Kiều for the first time this evening after hearing about it from Michael and Elizabeth for weeks. Hands down the best Vietnamese food I have tried so far in NYC. (Ed.: As of June, 2013, it's still the best Vietnamese food I've found in NYC.)
Run by Vietnamese (as opposed to the usual-for-NYC Chinese), and full of Vietnamese patrons, the menu sticks to the basics: simple appetizers, soups, and grilled meats over rice or rice vermicelli. Everything we tried was top-notch: the fried spring rolls (chả giò) are the best I've had in years:
The barbecued pork over rice vermicelli (bún thiṭ nứơng) reminded me what great Vietnamese barbecued pork tastes like--it had been a long time. Best phở I've had in ages, too... it made me realize that most Vietnamese restaurants in New York tend to overcook both their rice noodles and the sundry meat products in the soup.
For a really warming dish, they serve a beef stew with either phở noodles or thin egg noodles (mì). It's marvelous: the chunks of beef are ALL tender, down to the very last one, and it has a rich flavor where all its individual components are somehow clear, almost light...I don't know how they do it. This is the mì bò kho:
With winter approaching, I have a feeling I'll be visiting this place quite a bit in the coming months.
Cơm Tấm Ninh Kiều
2641 Jerome Ave., Bronx 10468
(4 train to Kingsbridge Rd., then 1 block south)