Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.
There’s often something magical about those tiny deli-style eateries inside of first-generation marketplaces—whatever they lack in polish, they tend to make up with a combination of big flavors and reasonable prices. Think Dong Yang in Northeast Minneapolis, which offers some of the state’s best Korean food, or La Alborada on East Lake Street, which slings some of its best tacos.
Another case in point: Viet-Tien Market, which brings some seriously soulful Vietnamese fare to the small, St. Cloud–adjacent community of Waite Park. From baked goods to whole spices to white coffee, Viet-Tien has your shopping bases covered, and its attached restaurant sports a short menu that makes up for its brevity with a sense of focus.
The restaurant’s Beef and Meatball Pho ($10) sports a good, if fairly standard-issue Saigon-style broth—it’s cinnamon, clove, and star anise-driven, a bit sweet, and thin without being anemic. What’s lovely about this particular dish is the beef, which comes medium rare in ultra-thin, shabu shabu–style slices that cook in the broth right before your eyes. The meatballs that arrive with this soup are equally good, as they’re sliced into delicate slices rather than arriving in the rubbery spheres often found in other restaurants’ versions of this dish.
THE DISH: Beef and Meatball Pho, $10
THE PLACE: Viet-Tien International Market and Deli, 311 3rd St NE, Waite Park, MN
THE REASON: Delicate, medium-rare slices of beef make this soup a triumph