Decorated with lanterns and neon signage, this basement Vietnamese restaurant offers up very tasty dishes in an unpretentious izakaya-style setting. Named for the famous Vietnamese beer, 333 ("Bababa") is crowded at lunch and dinner with local young Japanese office workers and Vietnamese students.
Along with the usual Pho soup-noodle dishes, 333 has a great lineup of delicious soupless Bun noodle plates. The "Bun cha gio" (deep-fried meaty spring rolls and Bifun noodles) and "Bun bo tron" (sauteed beef and Bifun noodles) are highly recommended. Make sure to thoroughly mix all the extra ingredients (peanuts, fried onions, chopped herbs, etc.) to get the most flavorful bites.
They also do a great variation on the southeast Asian staple of chicken rice. Instead of steamed chicken, "Com ga me" pairs white rice with crispy fried chicken slathered in a sweet tamarind sauce. Another unusual favorite is "Bun ca," a large bowl of Bifun soup noodles topped with chunks of fried white fish, fried tofu, beansprouts and green onions.
All the dishes are improved with generous helpings of spicy sauce and pickled garlic, which can be found on each table. Because a lot of people dislike the herb here, all dishes are served without coriander. If you want your dish garnished with fresh coriander, let the waitstaff know when you order.
The dessert menu has some unusual versions of "che" (the traditional Vietnamese pudding). Choose from coconut, mango, or even avocado if you are feeling adventurous.
One word of warning: For some inexplicable reason, the floor is split-level and has one sunken section in the middle of the room! Watch your step after a few 333 beers or Nepmoi vodkas.
by Richard Jeffery