Elijah Ferrian squeezes into this tiny Vietnamese-owned taco and pizza joint in District 2, Simple Place. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Everybody loves tacos and pizza, especially when the price is right. Simple Place, owned by Tran Thi Bich My and her husband Nguyen Van Nam, began as a small outdoor cart back in October 2013 before they moved into their current location on Quoc Huong.
“First we opened as a taco and pizza place,” My explains. “[My boyfriend and I] were in the hotel industry, and we had kitchen skills from that. We like tacos and so we decided to open. The place we had previously was very small.”
“It was just a stand. We had our first customer, he was from France, and he said it was very good. He came back with his friend, and two months after that the owner of our current location, a former cafe, offered to rent us the space.”
I’m not going to lie, if someone told me that there was a Vietnamese couple making pizza tacos and enchiladas and it was really good, I’d be skeptical.
Well it turns out that the food is solid, and it’s even more surprising when My tells me that her and her husband learned how to make tacos strictly via internet sleuthing.
“I never had any experience with restaurants and food service, and when we started to rent the space here, I was very worried about being able to keep up with the rent, but now people seem to love the food so much I don’t have to worry as much,” My says.
With the prices they charge, it’s no wonder why they are popular with both Vietnamese locals and foreigners.
Do yourself a favour and order the duck tacos. Soft shell or hard shell, VND35,000 for two. These are well known around Thao Dien for being one of the best value meals in the area.
Usually getting western-style plates is never this cheap, or nearly this good. Perfectly roasted duck shredded and surrounded by fresh tomato, pepper, onion and cheese will make you consider picking up some vit quay next time you’re thinking of doing tacos at home.
Burritos (VND60,000) come with a protein choice between chicken curry, pork carnitas, beef, duck and avocado sweet potato.
Enchiladas start at VND50,000 for vegetarian or chicken, pork or beef for VND70,000.
Vegetarians are in for a legitimate treat here. The ingredients are fresh, the spice rack keeps things tasty and interesting and the price is right.
There’s definitely a Vietnamese feel to the whole thing, but that’s a fantastic part of the charm.
Sitting on short wooden stools and tiny tables with Vietnamese language swirling on the street, eating carnitas and pizza garnished with whatever greens are fresh that day.
Do yourself a favour if you haven’t already and have lunch or dinner at this magnificent hole-in-the-wall restaurant. These kinds of places are disappearing quickly from the Thao Dien landscape, and we have a duty to help fine folks like My and Nam keep their passion for sharing food with others alive.