Couple blocks away from the heart of Fishtown sits a small restaurant, almost unrecognizable without the funky hand-drawn sidewalk board, called Streetside. Perceiving itself a haven for casual fun inspired by the streets, the restaurant resembles funky vibes from Southeast Asia: eccentric dining ware, mix-matched furniture, and savory food.
Unlike its peer, Stock, which embraces various cuisines around Southeast Asia, Streetside’s menu centralizes around Vietnamese food. Nothing is too out of ordinary. Nothing will raise any eyebrow. Just to name a few, they are dumplings, edamame with Viet crack (don’t sweat or excite, it’s just chili salt), noodle bowl, and of course everyone’s MVP, pho.
Their homemade Grandma’s pork and chive dumplings, which tasted as if they were just served straight out of the steam basket, are a must-try. You can opt out for Street Side’s “Me Wrap” option when diners get to customize their filling and personally wrap their summer rolls. Having “Me Wrap” on their menu impressed me a lot because I have never seen any restaurant in Philly that offers this option despite the fact that DIY summer rolls is such a simple common meal in every Vietnamese household.
However, their Classic Pork Belly Noodle Bowl was average. Claiming itself classic, yet the pork belly, ironically, wasn’t seasoned and grilled like the original recipe. The bowl lost the inviting smoky flavor that the meat could have brought. Sometimes it’s better to stick to the norms than to change. Nevertheless, the complimentary crispy parcels (aka spring rolls) were in such cute and petite sizes helped adding the necessary crunch.
Their pho, though, surprised and surpassed my expectation. With the price of $7 dollars, which probably beats everywhere else in the city, customers get a steamy and delightful bow of beef pho with three options of steaks, brisket or both. The straightforward, grammatically (Me Thirsty for drinks) and somewhat politically incorrect (Happy Ending for desserts) menu at Streetside subtly revealed the restaurateurs’ sense of humor.
Sometimes it’s not the food that keeps me going back. Aside from their pho and dumplings, everything else was mediocre. What had me smiling ear to ear was the ambiance, the quirky adaptation of what it would have felt like back in Vietnam: in a random hidden alley, under dim street lights with the person I love, both casually enjoy the food and each other’s company.
Somehow at Streetside, I’ve found bits and pieces of home.