Bahn Xeo And Lemongrass Chicken Do Not Disappoint
By Harry & Sally
Editors Note: The BaldOne cannot do all of the restaurant reviews, even if he would like to do exactly that. The primary reason is, that it would not be fair. He has places that he likes, and some places that he likes a lot. He also has places that he doesn’t like, and perhaps one or two that he dislikes a lot. In order to be fair to everybody we sometimes send some others out to do the work.
Harry & Sally come as a team, and most certainly qualify as Foodies. They are fair in all of their evaluations, and are never too shy to express displeasure or disappointment.
Here are their thoughts after a second chance visit to Aurora Vietnamese Cuisine.
A little while after Aurora opened we had lunch there, hoping for a good Vietnamese restaurant in Salem That we could enjoy and recommend to others.
We were disappointed as the food was not authentic and was pricey. Specifically, the Banh Xeo dough was soggy and the sauce lacked flavor (was weak). The Pho was expensive relative to other Vietnamese restaurants in the area and the broth wasn’t spiced enough. We asked for fish sauce so could enhance it best we could.
After some friends told us that the food had improved, and after having one particular appetizer (lemongrass chicken) made by Aurora at an area event that we attended, we decided to try it again. The differences were dramatic.
Mica, our waiter, was diligent setting up the table and brought us a complimentary cucumber salad with olive and sesame oil. A constructive critique is not to spray glass cleaner on the tables next to diners as the smell is not appetizing.
We started with the Banh Xeo (Vietnamese savory pancakes) and Boneless Chicken with Lemongrass, which we remembered from the event. This time the Banh Xeo dough was crispy and the sauce much more flavorful… it was as intended. The Chicken was delicious with the right combination of spices. It was an entrée sized portion and we actually made lettuce wraps, using lettuce from the Shaky Beef Salad.The beef in the Shaky Beef Salad was cooked and spiced well, but the lemon juice a little too tart and the tomato, cucumber and lettuce cut too large. If the produce had been cut smaller and mixed together, we could enjoy it with each bite of beef.
The Combination Pho was very good, especially the broth… a significant improvement from our first visit. However, it was to have sirloin, brisket and meatball, but there was no brisket. The bowl was huge and the Pho too expensive, about $5 more than a restaurant close by and much more than a place we like in Lynn. The herbs and bean sprouts that came with it were fresh and more than the first time. Our recommendation would be a slightly smaller sized Pho with a reduced price that matched.
We also enjoyed the Vietnamese Style Braised Shrimp. Harry wanted to avoid white rice, so asked for veggies and Aurora accommodated us as they don’t serve brown rice. The sauce was tasty with the right amount of spice and would have been excellent over rice. We do suggest Aurora carry brown rice as many prefer it for health reasons.
The service was top notch, Micah regularly asked us how the food was and was attentive.
We are glad we returned and with some additional improvements, Aurora can become a destination.